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

School Urges Experimenters to Consider ‘Euthanasia of Five or More Cages of Normal Adult Animals’ As Part of COVID-19 Response Plan

For Immediate Release:
March 26, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

St. Louis

Following reports that because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Washington University–St. Louis (WUSTL) is urging experimenters to “[d]evelop plans to scale back [their] breeding colonies,” tag “essential animals,” and consider the “euthanasia of five or more cages of normal adult 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, Andrew D. Martin, urging an end to animal experimentation at the school immediately.

PETA questions why the school is conducting experiments on animals not considered “essential” in the first place and points to disturbing reports of animal abuse at the university. According to public records, obtained by PETA from the National Institutes of Health via the Freedom of Information Act, WUSTL has reported many violations of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, including the following: A rodent underwent an unapproved surgical procedure; on five separate occasions, mice received expired anesthetics; the veterinary records for 50 mice were incomplete; 28 mice who received implants weren’t given any analgesics; 24 mice who underwent surgery didn’t receive the required analgesics; and 32 mice drowned in cages because of staff negligence.

Based on WUSTL’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 unnecessary—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 WUSTL does a sloppy, substandard job of caring for animals in fully staffed laboratories, nothing good can be expected amid a pandemic,” says WUSTL alumnus and 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 the animals used in its laboratories are needed—which we know it can’t—it shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on breeding, buying, or testing 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.

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 WUSTL is available here.

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