COVID-19, Violation Prompt PETA Call for UT Health Science Center to Shut Down Animal Labs

School Experimenters Told to 'Remove Excess From Their Census,' Which Means Killing Animals

For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2020

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

San Antonio – Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has told experimenters to “focus their efforts on maintaining or decreasing the current number of cages in their rodent colony” and to “review current rodent cage counts with their staff and remove excess from their census,” which will lead to the killing of hundreds or more animals.

PETA fired off a letter today to the university’s president, William L. Henrich, demanding to know why the school conducts noncritical animal experiments. The group is also asking the public to e-mail the university via this action alert to urge it to be transparent regarding how many animals it deems nonessential and euthanizes in response to COVID-19 and to stop all current and new animal experiments.

According to public records obtained by PETA from the National Institutes of Health via the Freedom of Information Act, the center has reported several violations of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, including the following: Studies were performed without being reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), a rat had to be euthanized after being subjected to a foot-shock procedure in which the animal jumped and hit his or her head, and mice were administered nonpharmaceutical-grade anesthetics without the IACUC’s approval.

“The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio does a sloppy, substandard job of caring for animals 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 who are kept inside small steel cages. If it can’t prove that the experiments are essential—and its response to the pandemic indicates that they’re not—it must not be permitted to continue squandering taxpayer money on them once the pandemic is over.”

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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“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