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

School Laboratories Issue “Research Curtailment Directive,” Which Likely Means Killing Hundreds of Animals, As Part of COVID-19 Response Plan

For Immediate Release:
March 27, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Durham, N.C.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Duke University has issued a “research curtailment directive” that allows only “essential” experiments, which will likely lead to the killing of hundreds or more laboratory animals.

PETA fired off a letter today to the university’s president, Vincent E. Price, demanding to know why the school conducts noncritical animal experiments.

According to public records obtained by PETA from the National Institutes of Health via the Freedom of Information Act, Duke has reported many violations of the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The following are a few of them: 385 mice died when they received food with toxic levels of ivermectin, a rhesus monkey sustained injuries after escaping from a cage, 55 fish died when the system to monitor the gas pressure failed, 11 mice died during a gavage procedure, 12 live mice were thrown into the outside trash, unapproved procedures were performed on mice and a rabbit, and nine mice died of dehydration when staff members failed to check the waterline.

“Duke 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. If the university 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 or click here.

PETA’s letter to the university is available upon request.

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