Heartbreaking images have circulated online in which lab monkeys are shown to be being kept in cruel conditions at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium as they use their brains for Alzheimer’s research.
Animal activists have revealed that there is a university in Belgium in which scientists are conducting experiments on monkeys’ brains by drilling into their skulls.
The horrifying experiment will see 12 rhesus monkeys have electrodes implanted into their brains, with rods attached to their tiny heads with cement.
Scientists taking part in the experiment are insisting that it is necessary to use the animals as previous work of this kind has proven successful in helping to understand Alzheimer’s and could create the potential breakthrough that’s needed.
The experiment, which is being funded by taxpayers, has been blasted by animal rights activists and they have demanded that they put an end to the experiments on the primates – the monkeys are set to be killed once it is over.
Campaigner Jen Hochmuth has spoken out against the experiment and has described using the monkeys as “useless and cruel experiments that only serve to satisfy the curiosity of scientists lacking compassion”.
She added: “The brain experiments on monkeys are not a necessary evil but plain evil.”
The lobby group has revealed that Flemish taxpayers are funding the research, which is estimated to cost €1.8million.
The activists are convinced that the university is also in ownership of dozens of other animals which are being locked up.
The group added: “The brain experiments cause the monkeys a lot of suffering.
“In order to be able to measure their brain activity, all test monkeys are made ‘ready for use’.
“Electrodes are implanted into the brain via boreholes in their skulls. Cement is used to attach a fixation rod or ‘hat’ to the skull.
“This rod serves to fix the head of the monkeys during later brain measurements. The animals have to go through heavy training programmes for months and are put on strict water diets to force them to cooperate with the researchers.”
A petition has now been made by the animal activists in which they are calling for the monkeys to be freed.
KU Leuven has claimed on its website that “unfortunately, there are not enough good alternatives” to replace the use of animals in lab experiments, in particular with brain research.
It reads: “Certain processes can be studied in test tubes. Some studies can be done on humans. In other cases, animals are necessary.
“Research on ‘complex brain functions’ can only be done on monkey species because other animals do not have such functions.”
They also claim that current Alzheimer’s medicine which is being tested on humans is only acceptable to do so because it has been cleared as safe after previously being tested on monkeys.
The university added: “Laboratory animals are well cared for and housed in the best possible circumstances.
“They live in small groups with enough enrichment to keep them busy. Good care and housing is not only important for the animals but also to guarantee the quality of research.
“Only if animals have been able to develop their natural capabilities can meaningful research be carried out on them. Monkeys have very spacious housing, where their natural environment is mimicked as much as possible.”