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Monkeys Subjected to Cruelty and Death at Elon Musk's Neuralink

Monkeys suffered from infections, brain hemorrhages and other extreme conditions leading to their deaths under Neuralink's experimentation

Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is facing legal trouble from an animal rights group accusing the company of causing “extreme suffering” during years of gruesome experiments on monkeys.

Neuralink‘s brain chips were implanted into the monkeys’ brains during a series of laboratory experiments at the University of California-Davis from 2017 to 2020. 

On Thursday, a complaint was filed with the US Department of Agriculture by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. 

The report contained many examples of the abuse of the animals used by Neuralink. The complaint says that one monkey was found missing some of its fingers and toes, “possibly from self-mutilation or some other unspecified trauma.” That monkey was later killed during a “terminal procedure.” 

The complaint further states that a monkey had holes drilled in its skull and electrodes implanted into its brain. After the procedure, the monkey allegedly developed a skin infection and had to be euthanized.

Another case involved a female macaque monkey with electrodes implanted into its brain. After the procedure, the animal began vomiting and gasping with no relief. The monkey “appeared to collapse from exhaustion/fatigue” within a few days and was subsequently euthanized. According to the report, a postmortem exam showed the monkey had suffered a brain hemorrhage. 

In total, Neuralink utilized 23 monkeys in its study. According to records released through California’s open records law, 15 of those monkeys were euthanized or had died by 2020. 

Jeremy Beckham, director of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine‘s research advocacy, spoke to The New York Post regarding the animal abuse by Neuralink.

“Pretty much every single monkey that had had implants put in their head suffered from pretty debilitating health effects. They were, frankly, maiming and killing the animals,” Beckham said.

The group’s report comes just before Neuralink plans to begin its first human trials. In December, Musk said that he wants the company to begin human trials for the devices in 2022. 

Neuralink posted a job listing for a clinical trial director this January in preparation for the upcoming trials. 

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is an organization that advocates for alternatives to animal testing. In the past, the group received funding from animal rights group PETA, according to The Guardian.

The organization is accusing Neuralink and UC Davis of nine violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The AWA is a federal measure created to decrease suffering during animal testing in laboratories. 

In the official complaint to the USDA, the group outlines the extent of the abuse of the monkeys. “Many, if not all, of the monkeys experienced extreme suffering as a result of inadequate animal care and the highly invasive experimental head implants during the experiments, which were performed in pursuit of developing what Neuralink and Elon Musk have publicly described as a ‘brain-machine interface.’”

The group is also suing UC Davis in hopes they will be required to release additional photos, videos, and information about the monkeys under California’s public records laws.

The alleged abuses come in stark contrast to publicly shared materials from Neuralink. 

Last April, the company showed a seemingly healthy monkey playing the video game Pong with its brain in a video on YouTube

UC Davis ended its relationship with Neuralink in 2020. 

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