Save Xena and Others Like Her Imprisoned in a UMass Laboratory

It’s November 15, 2018, and Xena is lying on a metal table in Agnès Lacreuse’s laboratory at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass). An experimenter carves a bloody red slit into Xena’s delicate abdomen. By the time she wakes up from the nearly two-hour surgery, her insides will be threaded with electrode leads. 😨

Literally anyone in Xena’s position would be terrified beyond belief. But who is she, and how did she get here?

Treated Like Cargo

Xena is a marmoset monkey who was born at a South African breeding facility for Worldwide Primates on December 30, 2014. Just before her second birthday, workers shoved her into a cramped crate with other frightened monkeys and loaded the animals onto a plane. Thousands of monkeys every year suffer similar fates when they’re shipped to experimenters. They sit in their own waste in the darkness of a cargo hold, shrieking in fear. Xena’s journey was no different.

PETA-owned image of Xena the marmoset from

She landed at a Worldwide Primates facility in Florida and was known as #648. Her captors warehoused her with hundreds of other monkeys for over a year before boxing her up again and shipping her to UMass. We aren’t talking about a toy, an appliance, or a spare part—but that’s how Xena was treated, even though she’s a living being who can feel pain and fear.

Xena’s Lonely Life

In nature, marmosets have it made. 😍🌳🍃 Their habitats provide leaves to frolic among, friends to groom and play with, and insects and tree sap to eat. But at UMass, Xena’s entire world is just one cramped steel cage under harsh fluorescent lighting. The only time she can leave her depressing prison cell is when experimenters take her out for more painful procedures or tests.

Instead of enjoying a complex network of friends and fam in nature, Xena can only interact with one companion in her small cage—a male marmoset named Jolly. For her first month at UMass, she wasn’t allowed to have any contact with other marmosets at all. 💔

Surgery After Surgery

To experimenters at UMass, Xena was nothing more than a tool. 😡 In October 2018, they restrained her on a metal operating table and cut into her abdomen to remove her uterus and ovaries. This left a tender, itchy wound that Xena scratched and picked at for days, until she tore out the stitches. When the wound burst open, the experimenters sedated her again to fix it. Imagine how scary all this must have been.

Less than two weeks after fixing her wound, experimenters opened up Xena’s abdomen once more and inserted a transmitter device with wires. They also cut into the base of her neck and threaded four electrode leads from the transmitter to between her shoulder blades.

PETA-owned image of Xena in a cage from

The surgery would have already been invasive asf if the experimenters had stopped there—but they kept going.

They put Xena’s head in a metal frame and cut through the sensitive skin on the top of her head to expose her skull. Then they drilled into the bone, inserted electrodes, attached two of the electrode leads, tightened the screws in her skull, and fixed them in place with dental cement. This fr seems like a horror movie. 😱

When Xena woke up from this two-hour nightmarish surgery, she was groggy from the anesthetics. Her skin was bare where experimenters had shaved her fur off. Four days after the procedure, experimenters noticed she was cold and shivering and had been scratching the scars on her head and abdomen. The wounds would take weeks to heal.

How Harmful Is Captivity?

Even without invasive surgery, captivity is often horrible for marmosets’ health. So many wither away and die for no apparent reason that there’s a name for it: marmoset wasting syndrome. Those who survive the bleak conditions, like Xena, frequently get hurt by rough handling or a stressed, frustrated monkey in a nearby cage.

By the time Xena was 2, she was already suffering from ankylosis (stiffening and immobility) in her tail. Rough handling at Lacreuse’s laboratory left her with other painful injuries. Once, her gums started to bleed after her mouth whacked into a hard surface. Another time, her canine tooth snagged a handler’s glove and got yanked out, leaving a lasting bloody wound. 😢

Help Xena and Monkeys Like Her Today!

PETA-owned image of a marmoset in a tree from

Ever since she was born, Xena’s been a prisoner. The possibility of a free, fulfilling life with loved ones in the forest was taken from her. Every moment of her existence has been controlled by someone else—to this day, she’s still locked up in Lacreuse’s laboratory. 😧

Think about where you were in 2014. Imagine if you had been imprisoned this whole time and forced to endure continual experiments and surgeries. Your life would have been ruined—just so curiosity-driven experimenters could do as they please.

Xena doesn’t deserve this misery. Help us get UMass to stop the torment of her and her fellow captives today—we can’t let one more marmoset suffer in Lacreuse’s lab!

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