COVID-19, Violations Prompt PETA Call for Brown University to Shut Down Animal Labs

For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

  • School laboratories to start “ramping down research activities,” likely by killing hundreds of animals, as part of COVID-19 response plan
  • Federal citations include allowing five bats to starve to death; allowing a monkey to escape, resulting in multiple injuries to and surgeries for two animals; and more
  • PETA demands animal testing shutdown and release of information on taxpayer-funded experiments deemed “non-critical” by Brown University 

Providence, R.I. — Following reports that because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Brown University is urging experimenters to start “ramping down research activities” and be prepared for the restriction of “‘non-critical’ research”—which will likely lead to the killing of hundreds of animals in laboratories—PETA fired off a letter today to the university’s president, Christina Hull Paxson, urging an end to animal experimentation at the school immediately.

PETA questions why the school is conducting non-critical experiments on animals in the first place and points to disturbing reports, obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, revealing chronic and systemic violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act in Brown’s laboratories. Among other incidents, five bats starved to death when laboratory staff forgot to feed them; two macaques sustained injures that required surgery after staff failed to secure the area where one of them was confined, allowing him or her to escape and reach the other primate; and another macaque injured his or her hand after staff failed to secure the confinement area, allowing the animal to escape and fight with other primates.

Based on Brown’s repeated and documented failure to abide by animal protection laws and given that the school considers many of its experiments on animals not to be “critical”—as its response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown—PETA is urging it to prohibit the approval of new animal protocols and experiments, ban the breeding and acquisition of animals for laboratories, finalize and end current animal experiments, switch to superior human-relevant research methods if these experiments cannot concretely be shown to have improved human health, and publicly release information on any and all animals killed because the university deemed them not essential to the testing.

“If Brown does a sloppy, substandard job of caring for animals in fully staffed laboratories, 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 Brown can’t prove that these experiments are needed—which we know it can’t—it shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on them in the first place.”

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 or click here.

PETA’s letter to Brown University is available here.

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