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

For Immediate Release:
March 26, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

  • School urges experimenters “to conclude experiments, not start lengthy or complicated ones, and consider euthanasia of surplus animals,” which likely means the killing of hundreds of animals, as part of COVID-19 response plan
  • Federal citations include allowing a vole to die of dehydration, a primate to be euthanized by mistake, a surgical sponge to be left inside a primate who required euthanasia, and more
  • PETA demands animal testing shutdown and release of information on taxpayer-funded experiments on animals deemed “surplus” or non-essential by Emory University 

Atlanta — Following reports that because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Emory University has issued a statement urging experimenters “to conclude experiments, not start lengthy or complicated ones, and consider euthanasia of surplus animals”—which will likely lead to the killing of hundreds of animals in laboratories—PETA fired off a letter today to the university’s president, Claire E. Sterk, urging an end to animal experimentation at the school immediately.

PETA questions why the school is conducting non-critical experiments on “surplus” or nonessential animals in the first place and points to disturbing reports of animal abuse at the university. According to public records obtained by PETA from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Emory has been cited for violations of the Animal Welfare Act on several occasions, including for the following: A vole died of dehydration after staff failed to verify that the water bottle was properly placed in the animal’s cage, leaving him or her without access to water for five days; a guinea pig who escaped while being handled was found three days later and had to be euthanized; animals received expired medications; a vole died when staff failed to feed him or her after surgery; a primate was euthanized by mistake; a primate underwent a surgical procedure, and a week later, it was determined that the person performing the surgery had left a sponge inside the animal’s abdomen; and a male macaque had to be euthanized a week after staff performing surgery left a gauze that obstructed his intestine.

Based on Emory’s repeated and documented failure to abide by animal protection laws and given that the school considers many of the animals used in its experiments to be “surplus”—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 Emory University 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 Emory can’t prove that these experiments are needed—which we know it can’t—it shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on breeding, buying, or testing on animals.”

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.

According to a PETA analysis, the National Institutes of Health wastes $18 billion annually on ineffective animal tests—which instead could have been spent on essential medical supplies that better protect humans from COVID-19, such as more than 69 billion medical masks, 25 million portable ventilators, 6 billion bottles of hand sanitizer, or 600 million respiratory face shields.

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 Emory 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