Botched Surgery, Unapproved Drugs: PETA Files Complaint Against Cornell for Animal Welfare Violations

For Immediate Release:
October 25, 2022

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382

Ithaca, N.Y.

After obtaining federal records revealing recent violations of animal welfare guidelines in Cornell University laboratories, PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling on it to investigate the school for apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. PETA also sent a letter to Cornell University President Martha Pollack asking her to end the “chronic and egregious” violations and to prohibit offenders—including grant-holding professors—from having contact with animals.

The records document multiple painful experiments on animals between 2018 and 2022—some performed in apparent violation of the law without the required approval from the university’s animal experiment oversight body, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Incidents include the following:

  • A sheep died after experimenters implanted an unsuccessful carotid artery graft, then tried to implant a second graft—only to cause the animal to hemorrhage while trying to stand during recovery.
  • Experimenters administered unapproved anesthetics to 24 sheep undergoing orthopedic surgery.
  • In three separate incidents, experimenters failed to provide mice with water.
  • Seven mice died and 32 became lethargic after experimenters infected them with a virus and then failed to monitor them and provide care.
  • On two occasions, mice died following injections into their abdomens.
  • Experimenters gave expired anesthetics, analgesics, and euthanasia drugs to 910 mice.

“Through their negligence and disregard for the law, Cornell staff have caused painful deaths and miserable conditions for the animals held in their laboratories,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “PETA is calling on President Pollack to replace archaic tests on animals with cutting-edge, human-relevant, animal-free research.”

Cornell received more than $95,284,800 in taxpayer funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in fiscal year 2021, approximately half of which is estimated to have funded experiments on animals. Approximately 90% of basic research, the majority of which involves animal tests, fails to lead to treatments for humans—and more than 95% of new drugs that test safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials. PETA is calling on the school 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 about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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