mother and baby baboon

Representative Image (Jandrie Lombard/Adobe Stock)

A Lady Freethinker investigation found pregnant baboons were being cut open repeatedly so researchers could dissect the tissues of their gestating infants.

But that’s not all we found. 


One day, a Lady Freethinker reporter was combing through public records when she came across an official warning from federal inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), which said no animal should be used in more than one major surgery.

The corresponding inspection report noted that at least three female baboons had been cut open three times in invasive pregnancy experiments — and that researchers had authorized up to six C-sections each for the captive animals, in alleged violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. 

We obtained the mothers’ health records through a public records request and uncovered a world of suffering.

Olive baboon and baby

Representative Image (Photo Credit: Nick Fox/ Adobe Stock)

We immediately launched a petition, which has now been signed by more than 40,000 people, demanding an end to these cruel experiments — which have been ongoing since 1981 with no direct clinical applications for humans — and the federal, taxpayer-supported funding that enables them.


Illustration of Jemma (Bubi the Bear)


We then learned from a second USDA inspection report in May 2023 that one of the mother baboons, Jemma — known to researchers as #26876 — had not only had her gestating infants cut out of her three times, but she also had been bled excessively, also in alleged violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

So we went after more records, and we learned that Jemma has been self-mutilating for years — which is widely recognized by primate experts as a sign of extreme psychological distress.

Boo's Ailments

Boo’s Records (EVMS; Emphasis: LFT)


We also learned Jemma gave birth to a son, Boo — also known to researchers as 100417 — who was allowed to live, and that he started suffering before he was one year old.

Dr. Nedim Buyukmihci, veterinarian and co-founder of primate welfare nonprofit Action for Primates (AfP), reviewed information regarding Boo’s and Jemma’s health records and said the suffering was “unconscionable.”



“The signs seen in Jemma, the adult olive baboon being held captive at Eastern Virginia Medical School, are typical of the negative effects of being in a laboratory setting: loss of weight, loss of hair and serious self-inflicted damage (so called self-injurious behavior),” he said. “Her suffering, psychological and physical, has been compounded by the multiple episodes of anesthesia and surgery to which she was subjected for the removal of her gestating infants as part of the experiment.

The one infant who Jemma was allowed to give birth to was permanently removed from her at eight months of age. The mother-infant bond is one of the most important aspects of non-human primate development and well-being, not only for the infant, but also for the mother. Removing infants results in intense psychological trauma for mother and offspring, something that is likely to last a lifetime. The fact that Jemma was subjected to multiple such deprivations is unconscionable.”

baboon in cage

Representative Image (Jurra8/Adobe Stock)

Cruel animal tests have proven time and again to yield unsafe and unreliable results, given irreconcilable genetic differences between nonhuman animals and people.  

A growing number of leading scientists also are publicly acknowledging that the best solutions for people must start with human biology and compassionate alternatives.

Human biology-based approaches — and their safe, reliable, and cost-effective treatments and cures — are what sick and hurting people in our society need. Scientists must find a more compassionate path forward for the benefit of both animals and people.





Since learning about these baboon mothers, we’ve been raising awareness and calling for action to get Jemma retired to a reputable primate sanctuary, where she’ll be able to spend the rest of her days in peace, and for these cruel experiments to be shut down for good.

Jemma Plush

We’ve sent letters and a plush baboon to key leadership at EVMS asking for their compassionate retirement of Jemma to a sanctuary and to end the experiments.

Please join our fight to free Jemma, Boo, and all the other baboons at EVMS today!