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

School Says Only ‘Mission-Critical, Essential’ Research Should Continue

For Immediate Release:
May 20, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Gainesville, Fla.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the University of Florida is telling experimenters to “consider reduction of animal census,” which will likely involve killing many animals.

PETA fired off a letter today to the university’s president, Kent Fuchs, 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 the number of 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture, the university was cited by the agency for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act after its inspectors found that an unapproved procedure was used to close an incision in a sheep, which could have resulted in tissue necrosis and infection; surgical procedures performed on sheep were carried out in a filthy pen, not in a surgical suite as established in the approved protocol; a live baby deer mouse was found on the floor of the confinement area after staff failed to notice that the animal had escaped from a cage; and there was a high concentration of urine ammonia—that made breathing difficult—in an animal-confinement area.

“The University of Florida’s use of intelligent and sensitive animals in experiments as though they were nothing more than disposable laboratory equipment is shameful,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “The COVID-19 pandemic should be a moral and scientific reckoning for the school, which conducts deadly experiments on animals it keeps 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 safe and 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’s president is available here.

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