URGENT: Help Keep These Animal Abusers Shut Down Post–COVID-19

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9 min read

Animal exploiters are nonessential—the coronavirus pandemic proves it.

Thanks to global stay-at-home initiatives, seal pups are free to learn from their mothers how to swim instead of being bludgeoned to death for their skin and flesh. Bulls are spared the agony of breaking limbs running through the streets of Spain and dying in a bullring. And animals can enjoy their natural homes without being shot and killed. On many fronts, COVID-19 has given countless animals a respite.

The world can get along just fine without the torture and killing of animals. Here are 11 animal abusers we hope remain out of operation well after the world has bounced back from the coronavirus pandemic:

Brooklyn’s Torturous Fishing Clinics

COVID-19 forced Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City to cancel its cruel “Fishing Clinics.” At these events, participants—including children—hook fish through their sensitive mouths, pull them from their aquatic home, and toss them back into the water, where they often die from the injuries or stress.

Close Fishing Clinics

Most children have natural empathy for animals, and their kindness should be nurtured, not undermined. Last year, PETA and Brooklyn native Edie Falco petitioned the park to end this spectacle. Hopefully, these clinics are now gone for good.

Canada’s Commercial Seal Slaughter

Every year, the Canadian government allows sealers to shoot and bludgeon tens of thousands of seals to death. Sometimes, it takes more than one blow to the head for a seal to die. And often, they’re left to die slowly and painfully on the ice. But this year, countless seals have been spared such violence—thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and a consequential nonexistent demand for seal meat and skin, Canada’s commercial seal slaughter has been delayed and may not even go ahead this year.

Canadian Seal Slaughter

PETA and our international affiliates have been campaigning against the slaughter for years, including by holding eye-catching demonstrations outside Canadian embassies around the world, sending a PETA “seal” to follow the prime minister at every public appearance, and working with Gillian Anderson, Jude Law, Kelly Osbourne, and other stars to help put an end to the bloodshed. Our efforts have been paying off: The commercial seal slaughter has been hanging on by a thread for some time. And now it’s all but dead in the water—but seals need you to help end it. Join us in urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end federal subsidies of the slaughter in order to put the final nail in the coffin:

Texas A&M University’s Dog Torture Laboratory

Texas A&M University (TAMU) classes have been moved online, and most students have left the campus. We urge TAMU to move the dogs off campus, too—into loving homes.

dog named Cannoli imprisoned at TAMU muscular dystrophy dog lab

While most of the country is at a standstill, the imprisonment continues unabated for Cannoli—a golden retriever born in the canine muscular dystrophy lab. The healthy 2-year-old has been transferred to another TAMU laboratory, likely to be used in more cruel experiments.

All SeaWorld Marine Parks

SeaWorld has confined animals to cramped concrete tanks at marine abusement parks across the country. Often housed with incompatible tankmates, dolphins, whales, and other animals at the parks are regularly drugged in order to manage stress-induced aggressive behavior and relieve the endless monotony of swimming in circles. They break their teeth chewing on the metal bars and concrete sides of their tanks, and they’ve been forced to perform tricks for tourists in exchange for food—all in the name of entertainment.

SeaWorld closed all U.S. locations on March 16, and it hasn’t given an anticipated reopening date. Until it releases all the animals imprisoned at the parks, we hope they stay closed.

Slaughterhouses—All of Them

Since April, 18 slaughterhouses operated by meat companies such as JBS USA, Tyson, Smithfield, and Cargill have shut down. Over 5,000 slaughterhouse workers have reportedly been infected with the novel coronavirus, and more than a dozen have died. Even during the best of times, low-wage slaughterhouse workers have had to wear diapers on the kill line because they weren’t given bathroom breaks. And at a Smithfield plant in Missouri, workers complained that production lines were moving so quickly that they didn’t have time to cover their mouths when they coughed or sneezed.

pigs behind bars at farm

No one needs meatCowschickenspigsturkeyssheep, and other animals are living, feeling, thinking beings who value their lives. Kicked and prodded when ill or injured and jammed into crowded trucks, these animals’ last moments of life are on a blood-soaked killing floor. They are terrified by the sights, sounds, and smells of the slaughterhouse and don’t want to die, but workers slit their throats or shoot them in the brain with a captive-bolt gun.

NIH’s Fright Experiments on Monkeys

Instead of preparing for deadly pandemics, the country’s top research agency was suctioning out parts of monkeys’ brains and then scaring the animals with fake snakes and spiders.

open letter from monkeys used in experiment - blofeld

We’re calling on the National Institutes of Health to shut down this horrific laboratory and transfer the surviving monkeys to sanctuaries.

University of Delaware’s Senseless Rat-Killing Experiments

The University of Delaware’s Tania Roth claims that she studies child abuse. But her experiments are all about making sensitive, vulnerable rats suffer. She has forced alcohol down the throats of newborn rats. She has stuffed pregnant mother rats into tiny restraint tubes and blasted them with strobe lights. She’s deliberately terrified rats by repeatedly shocking their feet, and she’s taken newborns away from their mothers and given them to stressed rats who were unable to care for them.

The University of Delaware campus is closed to students until at least May 15. And PETA urges the school to close the laboratory that terrorizes animals for good.

Waccatee Zoo’s Roadside Nightmare for Dozens of Animals

A tiger named Lila languishes in agony at Waccatee Zoo in South Carolina with a serious medical condition that has left her almost completely bald. She’s been observed scratching her skin and shaking her paws, indications that she’s in distress, likely as a result of her dire physical condition.

tiger with severe hair loss at Waccatee Zoo

Lila and other animals imprisoned at the roadside zoo, which is closed temporarily as a result of the pandemic, are left to suffer in virtually barren enclosures with little or no stimulation. Bears pace back and forth, monkeys pull out their own hair in frustration, and isolated baboons sway and roll their heads—all signs of psychological distress.

These animals deserve to live in real sanctuaries—where big cats, bears, and primates can exercise, socialize, and play. Llamas, goats, and other animals should live in clean, comfortable spaces and receive the veterinary care that they need.

The Infamous Maine Lobster Festival

From holding spirited demonstrations outside the event to running ads reminding festivalgoers that lobsters are feeling individuals, PETA has targeted the Maine Lobster Festival for years. In late April, organizers announced that this year, the festival (normally held in August) is canceled—and they should keep it that way!

PETA investigation into Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster revealed that live lobsters were impaled, torn apart, and decapitated—even as their legs continued to move. Just like humans, lobsters feel pain and fear, have unique personalities, and value their own lives. They are intelligent, self-aware individuals. There is simply no need for anyone to kill and eat them.

Johns Hopkins University Owl-Brain Experiments

Owl in a Cage

Documents obtained by PETA reveal that Johns Hopkins experimenter Shreesh Mysore cuts into the skulls of barn owls, inserts electrodes into their brains, and forces them to look at screens for hours a day. He also bombards these sensitive birds with noises and lights. These cruel, bizarre experiments have told us nothing about human attention-deficit disorder, which Mysore claims to be studying.

New York City Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

On February 29, a 12-year-old mare named Aisha—who spent most of her life being forced to pull heavy carriages full of tourists—collapsed and never got back up. Like many other horses who’ve broken down under the physical and mental strain of being used for outdated forms of human entertainment, she was euthanized.

Back in March, PETA and our friend Alec Baldwin asked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to shut down carriage rides during the coronavirus outbreak. The horse-drawn carriages aren’t operating now, and we don’t know when the industry will resume.

We’ve seen everything from pools of blood left by a horse forced to pull a carriage while injured to a runaway horse who drowned in an icy river while attached to a sinking vehicleHorse-drawn carriages are simply accidents waiting to happen.

UniverSoul’s Traveling, Animal-Abusing Circus

UniverSoul Circus consistently employs disgraced animal exploiters. Federal records show that a limping tiger was denied veterinary care, elephants were denied foot care, and big cats were locked in cramped cages 24/7—all while on tour with the circus. During a 2017 inspection of the circus in Fulton County, Georgia, officers discovered wounded camels, an injured zebra, elephants with bruised feet, and an elephant with an ankle wound.

camerls and zebras at Universoul

All of UniverSoul’s 2020 tour dates are being rescheduled because of COVID-19. There are no dates on its website at this time.

All animals want to be free from torment, just like you and me, but circuses have hauled them across the country in trucks and trailers. They’ve been forced to perform confusing, uncomfortable, and demeaning tricks under the threat of physical punishment.


Of course, PETA hopes this public health crisis ends quickly and the financial and other hardships for humans end, too. But we also hope that among all the lessons we take away from this experience, there will be one in compassion.

Animals are enjoying our lockdown. As PETA President Ingrid Newkirk has stated, “What an indictment!” When we again have the chance to live as we please, we must modify our greed. We must make purchases and entertain ourselves without harming others and emerge from this pandemic as moral agents.

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