Simio and Johan — For NeuroSpin, as long as primates produce results, their health does not matter

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The animal testing industry claims that laboratories want to preserve animals’ health so as not to distort the results of their experiments. This clearly is not the case at NeuroSpin, as shown by the documents obtained by One Voice, who are helping to raise awareness of the living hell suffered by Simio and Johan, two rhesus macaques exploited by being deprived of water and being fitted with cranial implants while their health deteriorates and while the laboratory does not even have any right to practice animal testing. We are asking for this establishment’s authorisation to be retracted.

Simio – Repeated implants for a magnetic resonance prison

Simio was born on 2 June 2011 in China. At the age of just six and a half, he was sold to NeuroSpin by a laboratory in the Netherlands.

Two months later, a metal bar was cemented into his skill, which serves to stop him moving his head during numerous ‘training sessions’ that he would have to subsequently endure. ‘Training sessions’, meaning that he was shut into an ‘MRI chair’ (a kind of plastic box which he can only get his head and arms out of), itself fitted into a machine to scan this poor macaque’s brain while he is forced to press on a screen for hours.

An experiment involving water restriction and being immobilised in an MRI chair, co-created by Stanislas Dehaene (director of a research unit at NeuroSpin) and carried out in China in the 2010s

After a few sessions, the implant breaks and Simio is put back onto the surgery table to have a second one fitted before returning to the chair. One week later, the same thing again – then a month later, and yet again two months later. Clearly, for NeuroSpin, macaques’ health comes far behind producing test results.

Others have been even less ‘lucky’.

Johan – As long as he is not too sick to be usable…

Johan was born on 12 April 2001 in a German laboratory. He was one of the primates that we have reported on since 2014 regarding the exploitation and mistreatment by the Max Planck Institute, in experiments which ended after a European campaign was successful in condemning three researchers. At the age of sixteen, Johan was also sold to NeuroSpin, where an equally appalling fate awaited him.

With electrodes implanted in his brain, he found himself immobilised in a restraint chair for hours, sufficiently deprived of water for days or weeks so that the prospect of being able to drink a few drops would “motivate” him to obey and to do what was expected of him. Clearly, he never had a choice.

At the age of 19, after years of being tested on, he has difficulty moving and his body is unwell: osteoarthritis, inflammation, poor vision, abscesses… Not to mention his infected cranial implant. But the experiments and deprivation of water continue, again and again. In fact, the staff decided that Johan was too old to be cared for… but not too old to continue being exploited to “finish the ongoing procedure”. Sick, he spent the winter between his cage and the restraint chain, still being deprived of water.

Unsurprisingly, his health deteriorated over the months and a decision was made: he would be killed “once the experiments were finished”– which was on 2 March 2021, after several new sessions of being deprived of water and being in the restraint chair to study his brain. To hell with animal welfare, there was still data to be published!

Ready for battle to save those who are left

Johan was not the only one to have been neglected: three weeks after his death, the Prefecture’s inspection criticised the slaughter of three other monkeys due to care “being started too late due to a lack of a regular veterinarian being present at NeuroSpin”.

By was of a sanction, the laboratory’s authorisation was simply limited for a year, before being restored in 2022 despite the deaths of other neglected primates.

We are asking the Versailles Administrative Tribunal for it to be retracted, to save the macaques who have not yet been killed by NeuroSpin. To help us save them, you can sign our petition.