Animals Die While University of Washington Experimenters Are Out to Lunch

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3 min read

Having already exposed the horror that defines the living and dying conditions for monkeys at the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) at the University of Washington (UW), PETA reviewed public records to expose additional mistreatment of animals in the school’s laboratories. What we found was astounding, both in scope and frequency.

PETA asked the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for records documenting violations of federal animal welfare guidelines in the school’s laboratories, because UW experimentation is bankrolled largely by your tax dollars.

At UW, experimenters let animals starve or die of dehydration. They gave them incorrect doses of medications and administered too little or no pain relief. Unqualified experimenters performed surgeries on vulnerable animals. Some animals had their tails cut, exposing their spinal cords, without pain medications. One monkey had his arm amputated and some animals lived through botched gassing that was meant to kill them, among myriad other horrors.

Page after page of proof of the utter nonchalance of UW experimenters toward living, feeling beings jumps from the documents PETA received. The numbers speak for themselves:

Between November 2017 and March 2021, there were 77 documented incidents in which animals at UW sustained serious injuries or died—nearly two per month. The abuse and neglect are widespread and have affected mice, rats, crows, pigs, ferrets, frogs, monkeys, and fish, among other species.

There were 39 separate violations involving hundreds of mice and rats who were killed or had to be euthanized because of abuse or carelessness. In September 2019, 18 young rats were scalded to death when they were left on a cart with lab equipment that went through steam sterilization. In a June 2020 incident, the tails of five mice were clipped without pain medication. One had to undergo surgery because the spine was exposed after experimenters failed to follow approved protocols. In October 2020, the tails of 22 mice were clipped without anesthetics or analgesics, even though there was no protocol for this procedure. Thirteen mice experienced complications from the procedure, and one had to be euthanized.

In January 2021, a 10-day-old mouse was found dying in a cage after being left alone there without food or water. More than 123 other animals died in 29 separate incidents because UW experimenters and other staff members failed to notice that they had no access to food or water—sometimes for days—or were sick and needed immediate veterinary care.

There were 16 incidents involving monkeys, including one in April 2019 in which experimenters hadn’t ensured that a monkey was fasted the night before a surgery. That monkey choked on his or her own vomit and died. The left arm of another was amputated after he escaped his cage in July 2020 and was mauled by another caged monkey. Another monkey strangled to death when a chain in his cage became wrapped around his neck. Yet another slowly bled to death overnight after a veterinarian hit her femoral artery during a blood draw.

In one September 2019 incident, 10 ferrets involved in a head-bashing experiment received a higher force of impact to their skulls than had been approved, killing one of them.

Fish fared no better. In one incident in April 2019, 274 zebrafish asphyxiated when a negligent staffer used the wrong carbon particles for tank filters. In November 2017, several zebrafish were subjected to surgeries performed by untrained, unqualified staff.

All the animals tormented or killed at UW are or were sentient beings, capable of feeling fear and pain. It may come as a surprise to UW experimenters, but animals are not test subjects. The pervasiveness of UW’s negligence, incompetence, and cruelty found in the NIH documents runs deep.

UW’s labs, including those at the WaNPRC, should be immediately closed and the surviving animals sent to reputable sanctuaries.

Please take a minute and take action to help end animal torment everywhere.

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