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

For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

  • School laboratories to “identify all essential animal cages,” likely by killing hundreds of animals, as part of COVID-19 response plan
  • Federal citations include death of mice who were given doses of a contaminated vaccine, administration of expired pain-relief and euthanasia drugs to 900 mice, and more
  • PETA demands animal-testing shutdown and release of information on taxpayer-funded experiments deemed “nonessential” by Cornell University

Ithaca, N.Y. — Following reports that because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Cornell University is urging experimenters who use rodents and fish to “identify all essential animal cages” and “all essential tanks” “not to exceed 60% of their census as of March 1, 2020″—which will likely lead to the killing of hundreds of animals in laboratories—PETA fired off a letter today to university president Martha E. Pollack urging an end to animal experimentation at the school immediately.

PETA questions why the school is conducting noncritical experiments on animals in the first place and points to public records, obtained by PETA from the National Institutes of Health via the Freedom of Information Act, revealing that Cornell has reported many chronic and systemic violations of the U.S. Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The following are a few of them: deviations from approved protocols; the death of at least 19 mice who were administered doses of a contaminated vaccine; the administration of expired anesthesia, analgesia, and euthanasia drugs to more than 900 mice; and incomplete records of animal care.

Based on Cornell’s repeated and documented failure to abide by animal protection laws and given that the school considers many of its experiments on animals to be “nonessential”—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 animal experiments cannot concretely be shown to advance human health, and publicly release information on any and all animals killed because the university deemed them not essential to the testing.

“If Cornell 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 Cornell 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 Cornell University is available here.

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