Animal-Killing Spree in Labs as Universities Close Over COVID-19 Fears—PETA Calls B.S.

  • Universities have issued guidance to identify “critical animals to be maintained,” start “reducing population numbers [of animals],” and “[i]dentify any research experiments that can be ramped down, curtailed, or delayed” 
  • The National Institutes of Health wastes nearly $18 billion in taxpayer money annually on cruel and useless experiments on animals, many of whom will be deemed “extraneous”
  • PETA is urging all universities to suspend and assess animal experiments and instead use more effective, ethical, and economical human-relevant methods   

For Immediate Release:
March 16, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Washington — As an increasing number of major universities order a purge of countless animals who are not considered “critical” to experiments—which are now being “ramped down, curtailed, or delayed”—in response to concerns over the novel coronavirus pandemic, PETA is questioning why billions of taxpayer dollars are being used on experiments that can easily be ended or that involve animals who aren’t considered “critical” to the research mission.

Specifically, PETA is urging every research university receiving public funds to do the following:

  • Suspend all animal experiments
  • Assess the effectiveness of their current and planned experiments in helping humans, the harm to animals used, and the high failure rate of these experiments
  • Transition to superior, non-animal research methods

Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, the University of California–Berkeley, the University of Washington, and the University of Michigan are among the institutions calling on faculty to work on “reducing population numbers” of animals in laboratories, identifying animals who are not considered “critical” to experiments, and delaying new experiments on animals. PETA points out that studies show that 90% of all basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to human treatments and that 95% of all new medications that test safe and effective in animals fail in human trials. Yet the National Institutes of Health spends half its $40 billion research budget on animal studies, mostly at universities.

“The novel coronavirus pandemic should be a moral and scientific reckoning for universities that have harmed and killed animals in studies that are expendable,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “The mass graves of animals should tell us that cures will only come with human-relevant, non-animal research methods.”

Some of the experiments that PETA condemns as cruel, pointless, and wasteful include the following: Johns Hopkins University experimenter Shreesh Mysore cuts into the skulls of owls and inserts electrodes into their brains, supposedly to study ADHD in humans. Former Duke University experimenter Michael Platt kept monkeys thirsty in order to force their cooperation in a study on sex and power in advertising. And government experimenter Elisabeth Murray inflicts brain damage in monkeys and then frightens them with rubber snakes and spiders.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or click here.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind