An undercover video showing the seldom seen conditions and treatment of monkeys being experimented on has caused a media and political storm in Germany. An animal rights activist using a false name allegedly went undercover with a hidden camera at the Max Planck Institute for biological cybernetics Tubingen, Baden-Wurttemburg, Germany, outside Stuttgart. The video was screened Wednesday by Stern TV, a mainstream newsmagazine show hosted by German TV station RTL.
The footage showed bloodied and obviously distressed macaques undergoing experiments that the narrator of the video explains is basic research into cybernetic brain processors. Many of the animals were seen with unusual contraptions imbedded into the brain cavity, while others were left in cages without food or water to make them compliant to instructions. Those that wouldn’t follow instructions were pulled from cages using giant tongs.
According to two groups that organized the operation, the British Union for the abolition of vivisection (BUAV) and Soko TierSchutz, a German-based animal welfare group, some of the macaques had been in the laboratory for years and had been experimented on numerous times.
German animal rights groups and politicians have come out in force and called the experiments cruel.
"You can to research for years and decades and don't have to say anything about the actual results, “said Cornelie Jäger, an advocate for animal welfare in Baden-Württemberg. “You don't have to show any findings. You just keep saying: 'This is basic research.'"
Nicole Maisch, a member of the Green Party, said on Stern TV that "Such images shouldn't exist. Something is going wrong. We have seen pictures that disagree with the law.”
However, local council regulators from the town have said that what’s going on is legal.
The macaques, which were imported from China and Mauritius, were sedated, then had devices implanted in their heads. The footage showed some of the monkeys' reactions to finding the small, round plastic implant inside their skulls, which including ripping it off, excessive scratching and heavy blood loss.
Later footage in the short video showed some of the animals unable to perform normal functions, like walking or use of their arms. It also showed infected head wounds with some of the animals contracting flesh-eating bacteria MRSA.
"These shocking experiments are possible because the German animal experiments law failed to establish the indispensability and the ethical acceptability of animal experiments,” wrote Christina Ledermann, deputy chairman of the Federal Association of People for Animal Rights in a blog post.
“To overcome this scandalous and animal welfare anti-state, the government's independent right to audit the authorities for trial applications in the Animal Welfare Act must immediately commit, as EU animal testing Directive 2010/63 /EU requires in Article 38 of the Member States.”