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

School Says Only 'Essential Activities' Will Continue, Which Likely Means Killing Hundreds of Animals

For Immediate Release:
April 7, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Philadelphia – Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) told staff that only “essential activities” were allowed to continue, which likely led to the killing of at least hundreds of animals in laboratories. One experimenter tweeted that she had euthanized animals, writing, “preparing lab closure, euthanizing >3/4 of mouse colony.”

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

According to public records obtained by PETA from the National Institutes of Health under the Freedom of Information Act, Penn has reported many violations of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, including the following: On two separate occasions, live and dead mice were found in cages that were about to be washed, 26 cowbirds died of dehydration after staff didn’t notice that their water bowls were empty, 10 fish died when their tank’s outflow pipe was blocked,a mouse was subjected to an unapproved procedure by an unauthorized person and was not administered any anesthetics, and a dog had to be euthanized after sustaining injuries in a fight with two other dogs.

“The University of Pennsylvania does a sloppy, substandard job of ensuring animals’ welfare 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 it 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 here.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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