Campaign Updates: PETA Calls For End of Baboon Pregnancy Experiments at Eastern Virginia Medical School

6 min read

For more than 40 years, Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Gerald Pepe has used baboons in nightmarish pregnancy experiments, most recently injecting them with hormones and cutting out and killing their babies at various stages of gestation. When the baboons were allowed to continue their pregnancies to term, their babies were taken from them as infants to be used in developmental experiments. For decades, the university allowed Pepe to conduct up to six cesarean sections on each of the baboons without scientific justification—in violation of federal animal welfare regulations—and eventually, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the university for multiple major surgeries on animals. In 2022, the agency allowed the university to conduct multiple major surgeries on five baboons but revoked its permission in 2023 after the school failed to comply with basic veterinary care requirements. Learn more about the horrors baboons in Pepe’s laboratory endure, and TAKE ACTION TODAY to help PETA shut down this hellhole.

PETA Calls For Investigation Into Apparent Ill-Treatment of Baboons at Eastern Virginia Medical School

May 14, 2024

In a complaint filed with the Office of the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney in Virginia, PETA calls for a criminal probe into the Eastern Virginia Medical School laboratory of Gerald Pepe after obtaining new information showing that experimenters in his lab had subjected mother baboons to traumatic procedures without providing them with adequate care, among other glaring issues.

The Virginian-Pilot Publishes PETA’s Letter to the Editor

May 6, 2024

PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch’s letter to the editor of The Virginian-Pilot is published. It reads, in part, “Imagine being so terrified and distressed that you—as noted about the baboons in EVMS’ own records—circle repetitively, pull out your own hair and bite the cage bars of your prison cell so vigorously that your teeth sustain damage. Imagine having your baby cut out of and taken from you year after year. This is not science. It is cruelty.

Norfolk Residents Speak Out Against Pepe’s Gruesome Experiments

April 27, 2024

Residents of Norfolk are speaking out about the horrors in Pepe’s laboratory. The Virginian-Pilot publishes a letter from resident Sarah Deffinger. She writes, “Animals do not consent to being tormented and killed, and compassionate Virginians object to their money being used for cruel experiments that are irrelevant to human health.”

Local Doctor Pens Letter Against Pepe’s Pointless Baboon Experiments

April 24, 2024

Dr. Christine Llewellyn, a Williamsburg, Viriginia, resident, writes a biting letter published in The Virginian-Pilot taking aim at Pepe’s experiments using baboons. She writes, “I am appalled that EVMS participates in such abusive experiments that are of doubtful benefit to the humans, and I suspect your other readers are too.”

Meanwhile, PETA’s new digital ads catch some eyeballs on The Virginian-Pilot’s website, calling further attention to the plight of the baboons in Pepe’s laboratory.

Photo of the letter to the editor

Virginia Senator Jennifer Boysko: ‘Baboons Are Primates, Like Us’

April 20, 2024

Sen. Jennfier Boysko, representing the 38th District of the Commonwealth of Virginia, writes a blistering condemnation of Eastern Virginia Medical School’s baboon pregnancy experiments in an op-ed published in The Virginian-Pilot titled “Legislature Acts to Boost Animal-Testing Transparency.” Boysko writes, “All animals suffer when subjected to confinement, deprivation, isolation and physical pain, but as a mother who has long fought for women’s rights and championed animal protection legislation, I relate on a visceral level to these primate mothers and their heart-breaking stories.”

PETA Protests Against Eastern Virginia Medical School, Demands That It End Baboon Experiments, Shut Down Laboratory, and Fire Gerald Pepe

April 17, 2024

More than 40 PETA supporters—armed with enlarged photographs of one of the female olive baboons tormented in the laboratory of Eastern Virginia Medical School experimenter Gerald Pepe—protest outside the school, demanding that the university end the invasive experiments that have been going on there for decades, fire Pepe, and shut down his lab. The demonstration garners television coverage from 13News Now, which also posts a YouTube video and an article on

Eastern Virginia Medical School Kills Jemma, Cookie, Toya, and Tara: PETA’s New Digital Ads Begin Running in The Virginian-Pilot

April 16, 2024

PETA’s newest digital ads, which call attention to the pointless torture and needless deaths of Jemma, Cookie, Toya, and Tara—mother baboons in Gerald Pepe’s laboratory at Eastern Virginia Medical School—begin running in The Virginian-Pilot. They will run until April 30.

PETA’s New Ad Asks, ‘Why Did EVMS Kill Mother Baboons’?

April 15, 2024

After PETA learns that Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) killed mother baboons Jemma, Cookie, Tara, and Toya despite the sanctuary placement that had been secured for them, we run a bold full-page print ad in The Virginian-Pilot asking, “A sanctuary was standing by to receive them, so why did EVMS kill mother baboons Jemma, Cookie, Tara, and Toya?”

‘Baboons Have Been Close to My Heart,’ Writes Dr. Barbara King in New Letter

April 10, 2024

Dr. Barbara J. King, professor emerita of anthropology at the College of William & Mary, who worked with baboons in their natural habitats, weighs in with a letter published in The Virginian-Pilot against Gerald Pepe’s experiments, writing, “Baboons have been close to my heart ever since I observed them living in the wild in Kenya for my anthropology thesis years ago. They are smart primates that live in societies with intricate emotional ties across the generations: It was a delight to watch mothers and infants play and cuddle together. But in Pepe’s lab, individual female monkeys year after year have been subjected to invasive experiments and multiple caesarean sections, among other things.”

EVMS Kills Baboons Raul and Joy, Tells PETA ‘No Baboons at EVMS’

April 9, 2024

PETA learned that Raul and Joy—the two last baboons in Gerald Pepe’s protocol—were killed on April 9, 2024. The very same day, EVMS responded to one of PETA’s Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the number of baboons remaining at the university, stating, “There are no records associated with this request, as there are currently no baboons at EVMS.”

PETA Secures Sanctuary Placement for Four Baboons; Pepe Kills Them Anyway

March 14, 2024

PETA locates a reputable sanctuary, secures placement there for four baboons kept in Gerald Pepe’s laboratory, and notifies the school of the good news—but Pepe kills Jemma and Toya on February 13, then Tara and Cookie on March 21 in a final act of violence against these gentle individuals.

Shut Down Gerald Pepe’s Laboratory at Eastern Virginia Medical School

March 14, 2024

PETA steps up the pressure on Eastern Virginia Medical School to end Gerald Pepe’s experiments, issuing a news release and launching a campaign to shut down his laboratory following the publication of a story detailing the gruesome plights of baboons imprisoned there. Please read the Virginia Mercury article by Sarah Vogelsong.

PETA Calls For End of Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Baboon Pregnancy Experiments 

July 10, 2023

PETA calls for Eastern Virginia Medical School to shut down the laboratory of Gerald Pepe after the U.S. Department of Agriculture posted a new citation for a repeat violation of animal welfare regulations. “Eastern Virginia Medical School has once again violated federal animal protection laws in horrendous baboon pregnancy experiments, and this time, the study should be stopped,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. This laboratory must be shut down. Please do your part by TAKING ACTION TODAY to help ensure that it will be permanently closed.

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