Wake Forest University laboratories—well-documented havens for cavalier cruelty to animals and bumbling incompetence—have extended their shameful rap sheet of animal welfare violations by administering too much carbon dioxide to a monkey in an unapproved experiment and starving other animals to death because staff simply forgot about them, among other horrors that PETA found in recent federal reports.
PETA is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take immediate action against Wake Forest for the catastrophic failures inside the school’s laboratories that led to numerous violations of federal animal welfare regulations in incidents that occurred between February and October 2022.
Bookending the violations are two incidents involving monkeys. In the first incident, an experimenter administered excessive carbon dioxide to a rhesus macaque, a procedure that could cause tiredness, headaches, and shortness of breath and could lead to neurological symptoms. No one had approved the procedure. Another rhesus macaque had a device surgically implanted but received an inadequate dose of painkillers.
Other incidents include these:
- An experimental compound contained an unapproved ingredient that killed 12 mice.
- Experimenters gave six mice a high dose of a toxin but failed to euthanize them on time. They were found dead the next day.
- A staffer snapped a mouse’s neck without first giving the animal anesthesia as required.
- Staffers drew the blood of 38 mice from a vein behind their eyes—an unapproved method.
- Ten mice underwent experimental surgery and afterward received unapproved painkillers in lower doses than required. They developed hunched postures and became lethargic and dehydrated. Six died.
- Staff failed to feed six mice over a weekend. They all died.
- An experimenter picked up a rat by the tail, shearing the upper layer of skin and tissue and exposing the bone underneath.
Wake Forest’s history of animal welfare violations is fraught with cruelty and incompetence:
- In 2021, USDA inspectors documented that experimenters restrained a rhesus macaque for 90 minutes in a chair that was too large for the monkey, forcing her to dangle by her neck and underarms.
- An untrained experimenter carved into cats’ skulls and implanted hardware in their brains without cleaning it, and many of the animals didn’t receive adequate pain medication. The cats didn’t recover as anticipated, but no one told the veterinarian. They were later found in pain and “hypothermic, hyperthermic, in shock, and/or in distress.”
- A clumsy staffer accidentally strangled a rabbit to death.
- Thoughtless staffers caged two incompatible monkeys together. The animals fought so viciously that both required surgery and weeks of veterinary care.
- A monkey required surgery following an assault by other monkeys after inattentive staff left the doors between two enclosures open.
- Staff left 10 sheep outside without shade on a humid, 95-degree day.
- A monkey was hypothermic throughout four hours of anesthesia and vomited during recovery, but no one told veterinary staff. The next morning, he was found unresponsive in his cage and was euthanized.
What You Can Do
Wake Forest’s wholesale disregard for the bare minimum of animal welfare standards provided by federal law can’t continue. Please join thousands of PETA supporters who have already called on Congress to mandate that the National Institutes of Health stop throwing away taxpayer money on cruel, useless animal experiments and instead focus on modern, non-animal research methods.