PETITION TARGETS: Eastern Virginia Medical School Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Congress members, National Institutes of Health (NIH), USDA
Last year, Lady Freethinker exposed gruesome experiments on female baboons at Eastern Virginia Medical School — and we need your support more now than ever for Jemma, a 16-year-old female baboon who has been repeatedly brutalized in cruel pregnancy experiments.
Jemma, also known to researchers as #26876, has been impregnated and had her fetuses cut out of her at least three times between 2019 and 2021 — in direct violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. She also is part of the group being given letrozole, a drug which caused her to have seizures and pass out several times in her cage late into her pregnancies.
Now, new documents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — the agency tasked with ensuring that minimal welfare standards for animals in laboratories are met — show lab staff have, on multiple occasions, seriously endangered Jemma’s health by blatantly disregarding the university’s own protocols.
Two days before Jemma’s C-section in June 2021, lab staff found her salivating and unresponsive in her cage. They should immediately have taken steps to help her — with a long list of options included in the university’s protocol documents.
Instead, they did nothing, according to the federal inspector who reviewed her records.
“There are no records indicating treatment was provided,” the federal inspector wrote. “The only entry is from the attending veterinarian, stating that she (Jemma) was found unresponsive at 6 a.m.”
Jemma also has been bled excessively, with the USDA documents indicating she had her blood drawn at least 20 times during a 33-day period — in direct violation of the university’s own rules, according to the federal inspector.
Researchers also failed to adequately monitor Jemma’s weight to ensure her well-being, with the federal inspector noting research staff had documented her weight only during her semi-annual physical and test for tuberculosis — not the weekly-to-monthly requirement the university’s animal care use committee had approved in order to monitor the baboons for signs of distress.
This sidestepping is particularly egregious in Jemma’s case, as her health records, obtained by Lady Freethinker through public records requests, show she is suffering. The records indicate she’s missing her thumbs, as well as all of the other fingers on her left hand, and also that she has hair loss — which is widely recognized as a sign of stress in laboratory animals.
Tragically, Jemma’s suffering is not yet over. The experiments — which have not had any direct applications for human mothers or babies despite six years of torture to the baboons — are scheduled to run through at least 2024.
At that point, the experiments could be renewed or terminated — and Jemma’s only options, as outlined by the university, would then be to be killed, recycled into another experiment, or sent to another laboratory for continued cruelty.
This mama baboon has suffered more than any animal ever should. She does not deserve to keep undergoing horrific, painful procedures until she dies or is willfully killed by researchers when they’re “done” with her.
The only thing Jemma deserves is to live out the rest of her life, in peace and with others of her own kind, at a primate sanctuary.
Sign our petition urging authorities to immediately secure an end to the experiments on Jemma and to facilitate her release to a reputable primate sanctuary.
Jemma has suffered enough for “science.” It’s time for her to be free.