Animals Denied Water, Dosed With Unapproved Virus in Columbia University Labs

School’s Animal Welfare Violations Prompt Federal Complaint From PETA

For Immediate Release:
November 1, 2022

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382

New York – Right under Ivy Leaguers’ noses in Columbia University’s laboratories, mice were held in moldy cages and died from hypothermia, unapproved fecal transplant surgeries, or dehydration and some were cannibalized by desperate survivors after experimenters failed to provide access to water. After learning about all this and more—a whopping 22 violations of federal animal welfare guidelines since 2017—PETA submitted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging the agency to investigate, hold the university accountable, and cite it for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). PETA also sent a letter to Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, calling on him to end the school’s chronic and egregious violations and prohibit offenders, including grant-holding professors, from having contact with animals.

Columbia’s long list of AWA violations includes the following.

  • Water restriction: Experimenters failed to give a baboon water for three days, and two other monkeys’ water was restricted for 40 days, even though they were not being used for an experiment at that time.
  • Unapproved procedures: A guinea pig was dosed with an unapproved virus, and experimenters conducted an unapproved surgery on a baboon.
  • Falsification of records: An experimenter responsible for administering drugs to an immune-suppressed monkey neglected to do so or even to monitor the animal over the course of two weekends, yet he had checked off boxes on documents ahead of time to indicate that the drugs had been given.

“Columbia University staff have kept animals thirsty, conducted invasive and unapproved surgeries, and falsified records in violation of federal law,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on federal officials to crack down on this inexcusable free-for-all before more animals suffer in places few people ever see on this campus.”

Last year, Columbia received over $580 million in taxpayer funds from the National Institutes of Health, a significant portion of which went to funding the school’s animal experiments even though studies show that a staggering 90% of basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to treatments for humans. PETA is calling on Columbia to adopt the Research Modernization Deal, developed by PETA scientists, which provides a strategy for replacing animals with modern, high-tech research methods.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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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