COVID-19 Prompts PETA Call for University of Pittsburgh to Shut Down Animal Labs

School Calls For Experiments to Be 'Ramped Down,' Which Likely Means Killing Hundreds of Animals

For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2020

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Pittsburgh – Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) has told experimenters to “[i]dentify all non-essential research-related activities that can be delayed, ramped down, curtailed, or suspended,” which likely will lead to the killing of at least hundreds of animals. Reportedly, one Pitt employee has “reduced the [mouse] colonies by about 80 cages, which might each have a handful of mice, and still expects to make further reductions of the 300–400 cages she typically oversees.”

PETA fired off a letter today to the university’s chancellor, Patrick Gallagher, demanding to know why the school conducts noncritical animal experiments.

According to public records obtained by PETA from the National Institutes of Health under the Freedom of Information Act, Pitt has reported many violations of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, including the following: A marmoset broke his or her jaw when using a damaged hammock, 10 rats died of hypoxia when an experimenter failed to report a low-oxygen alarm, one primate was strangulated and another was injured when both became entangled in their chain collars, and live mouse pups were discarded along with dead mice when staff failed to follow euthanasia procedures.

“The University of Pittsburgh does a sloppy, substandard job of ensuring animals’ welfare in fully staffed laboratories, so nothing good can be expected amid a pandemic,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “The COVID-19 outbreak should be a moral and scientific reckoning for the school, which conducts deadly experiments on animals. If it can’t prove that these experiments are needed—which we know it can’t—it shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on them.”

Numerous published studies have shown that animal experimentation wastes resources and lives, as more than 90% of highly promising results from basic scientific research—much of it involving animal experimentation—fail to lead to treatments for humans. (Please read under “Lack of benefit for humans” here.) And 95% of new medications that are found to be effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.

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 PETA.org or click here.

PETA’s letter to the university is available 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