Female squirrel monkey 23993 was
acquired by the California Regional Primate Re-search Center,
at the University of California, Davis, on March 17, 1988. She
was estimated to be 4 years old. She had been captured from the
Wild squirrel monkeys live in highly
social family groups. Group sizes range from twenty to forty individuals.
The groups have matrilineage hierarchies with the females remaining
in their groups throughout their lives. The females form the core
of a group and work cooperatively to dominate the males. Groups
have ranges that vary in size, but can reach a few hundred acres.
They form associations with other species such as capuchins and
uacaris. Their forested homes are complex environments and interactions
with other monkeys and various other animals are common as they
forage for food and explore and socialize. Squirrel monkeys have
a vocabulary of at least twenty different calls.
We can only wonder what 23993 experienced
after she was captured and eventually shipped to California, but
upon arrival, we know that she was placed in quarantine, chemically
immobilized three times in three weeks for various examinations
and tattooed with her serial number. She was reportedly in “good
condition” but “thin”.
She had apparently been jailed with
another monkey during quarantine, because a notation
was made in her records on April 18, 1988, that she had been
referred for depression. The note explains that her “cagemate”
had been taken away. The note reads: “I brought it a new
cagemate this morning. (SSC 23990 from cage 2).”
Over the eleven-year period that
23993 was held captive at Davis, she had four children: two girls,
one boy, and one other whose gender is unknown. Records show that
she was chemically restrained on at least thirty-four occasions.
She had blood drawn on at least ten occasions and was tattooed
twice. She was moved to a different cage thirteen times. She was
once injured severely enough by another monkey as to require sutures
to her face.
23993 was used in at least four studies
at Davis, and in this regard, she was somewhat lucky since these
studies appear to have been observational in nature. The first
cannot be dated due to the poor quality of the documentation.
No project name is associated with it. What can be gleaned is
the fact that 23993 had been given a name; she was now being referred
to as Athena. Athena was one of thirty-two squirrel moneys used
in this study.
In 1995, Athena and her daughter
Aileen (SSC 28562, DOB 9-10-94) were used in a study titled: Mother-Infant-Other
Study MIO ’95. From the records:
The purpose of this project is to collect
data on the social interactions among captive squirrel
monkey infants, their mothers, and other cagemates over
the first three months of infant development. Data for
assessing social associations within each group that has
infants will also be collected.
These data will be collected on three
different days each week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday)
between the hours of 1400 and 1700hr. (sic)
The project will continue until all current
year infants have reached three months of age which is
expected to be in February of 1996.
Twenty-nine squirrel monkeys are
listed and sorted into seven groups. Of the twenty-nine monkeys,
twenty-one are listed as adults, six as juveniles (including Aileen),
and two as infants.
The second study is: Saimiri Vocal
Development Study: SVD ’95-97. The scientific name for
squirrel monkeys is Samiri sciureus, thus, the study’s
title. Athena and Aileen were again used as subjects. Thirteen
monkeys were used including five who were pregnant.
||The purpose of this research is to determine
the role of vocal learning in the chuck call of the squirrel
monkey (Saimiri). Each of the four social groups (Groups
1, 2, 4, and 5) consisting of 4-5 adult females and their
offspring of 0-24 months of age will be behaviorally observed
and acoustically recorded in an outdoor wire mesh enclosure
(LHP) once per week for 60 minutes. Recordings and focal
observations of infants and associating adults and juveniles
will be conducted between the hours of 12;00-2;00 PM on
each of four days each week (Monday-Thursday) beginning
as soon as possible after the infants’ births and
ending when the infants are 24 months of age.
The last study Athena was used in,
for which records are available, was: Ssc Vocal Development Study.
The records are very sparse, but 26 monkeys were used. The study
ran from April through July of 1998. The stated purpose was: “To
acoustically record the juvenile squirrel monkeys for a study
on the role of learning in chuck call development.” Athena
and Aileen were both included along with Athena’s son,
Adam (SSC 29843, DOB 8-15-96).
On February 2, 1999, Athena was shipped
to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. The research
she was used in there is unknown, but what is known is that during
1999 and 2000, scientists at Vanderbilt used monkeys of undisclosed
species in highly invasive brain, eye, and motor nerve experiments.
We are aware of no primate experimentation occurring during this
time span at Vanderbilt that was not cruel and eventually terminal.
story is now public knowledge due to the efforts on her behalf
by Mr. R.A. Filleul and Ms J.A. Ghose of the United Kingdom. We
thank them and look forward to the day when no more such stories
can be written.
the lab reports for 23993 here.