Animals Starved, Burned at NIH-PETA Demands Zero-Tolerance Policy

For Immediate Release:
March 3, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


Records that PETA recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request document shocking violations of federal animal welfare guidelines in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) intramural laboratories—and PETA is now calling on the departing Michael M. Gottesman, deputy director of NIH’s Intramural Research Program, to leave a legacy of kindness by implementing a zero-tolerance policy that strips violators of their experimentation privileges.

In a letter sent to Gottesman today, PETA points to 13 new violations reports, filed from September through November 2021. Among the incidents, three rhesus macaques who were already being deprived of water to force them to cooperate were denied even their minimum weekly water intake. A mouse caught fire because of the experimenters’ negligence and had to be euthanized. Fifteen mice underwent surgeries for which the experimenters failed to administer postoperative pain relief. Mice were injected with unapproved tumor cells on two separate occasions, with painful consequences. At least six mice starved to death when workers failed to notice that they had no food, and the well-being of others was so compromised that they looked “hunched and scruffy” and were subsequently euthanized.

“NIH’s government laboratories squander tax dollars on cruel and antiquated experiments, while failing to adhere to minimal animal welfare standards,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is asking Michael Gottesman to do the right thing before he goes by implementing a zero-tolerance policy to stop the negligence and abuse that have been occurring on his watch.”

Last year, PETA applauded the news that NIH Director Francis Collins, an animal experimentation enthusiast who oversaw a spending spree of nearly half the agency’s budget on archaic animal experiments, would be resigning. Studies show that roughly 95% of new drugs that test safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials, and recent data from the Pew Research Center shows that more than half of Americans oppose animal testing, regardless of political party. That may be why a bipartisan group of lawmakers recently wrote to NIH asking it to phase out animal experiments. The Research Modernization Deal, developed by PETA scientists, provides a blueprint for moving science into the 21st century, as researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute are doing.

For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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