Daisy Ridley has written a letter to the University of Massachusetts (UMass) asking them to stop testing on marmoset monkeys.
The Star Wars actor recently became aware of the university’s ongoing menopause research project, which involves cruel “cognitive testing.” It has also resulted in the deaths of multiple monkey subjects.
Ridley was shocked to learn that the captive marmosets are named after Star Wars characters. These included her own, Rey, which has already been killed.
In a letter to UMass’ Chancellor Subbaswarmy, the actor notes her disgust at the experiments and her sadness at the names given to the doomed marmosets.
She points out that the tests appear irrelevant, given that the marmoset monkeys do not experience menopause. She asked Subbaswarmy to consider “animal-free science” in the future.
“I was appalled to learn that tiny marmoset monkeys are being harmed in bizarre menopause experiments conducted at your university. I’m especially saddened to hear that these animals have been named after characters from ‘Star Wars,’” Ridley wrote.
“I obviously have a deep connection with this franchise, and it breaks my heart to hear that the names of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and several other beloved characters are now associated with such cruelty.”
Cruelty in animal testing
Animal rights organization PETA has revealed the extent of the suffering reportedly endured by marmosets at UMass.
One, named Anakin, is reported to have been restrained on the bed of an MRI machine for hours at a time. This was to allow researchers, led by associate professor Agnès Lacreuse, to observe the effects of aging on his brain.
In addition, he was forced to cooperate with undefined “cognitive tests” up to five days a week. Anakin was coerced by being denied drinking water until he participated. He suffered years of testing before being killed.
Female marmosets have apparently endured numerous surgeries. These include implanting electrodes into their brains, which are then threaded down internally to their abdomens. As Ridley stated in her letter, marmosets do not experience menopause, so it is artificially simulated by researchers.
Female monkeys have their ovaries removed and are subjected to artificial hot flushes, using hand warmers. Their sleep is also disturbed by invasive noises every 15 minutes to mimic REM disturbance in menopausal women.
PETA reports that Lacreuse and her team have received $4 million of taxpayer money from the US government to carry out the monkey experiments. Furthermore, it claims that UMass is complicit in a cover-up of what is happening behind closed laboratory doors.
“It appears the school is willing to break public records laws in order to try to hide the truth. PETA recently filed a lawsuit to compel the university to release records we had requested, which—in apparent violation of Massachusetts Public Records Law—UMass has so far failed to provide in full,” PETA said in a recent news release.
‘Cruel and notoriously unreliable’
The US has previously come under fire for its continued funding of animal experimentation.
Earlier this year, the White Coat Waste Project revealed that since 2018, the government has squandered more than $13 million on cruel monkey experiments alone. The legitimacy of such experiments is widely questioned. The US Food and Drug Administration has conceded that 95 percent of all drugs that test safe for animals are not suitable for humans.
“Primate experimentation is a cruel and notoriously unreliable way to develop drugs and treatments for humans, and it doesn’t deserve taxpayers’ support,” primate expert Stacy Lopresti-Goodman, Ph.D. previously said.