Criminal Charges Sought Over Deadly Johns Hopkins Owl Experiments

For Immediate Release:
December 8, 2021

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Baltimore – This morning, PETA sent a formal complaint to State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby, requesting a criminal investigation into the possible violation of anti-cruelty laws involved in the gruesome and deadly brain experiments on owls conducted at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) by experimenter Shreesh Mysore.

Mysore cuts into barn owls’ skulls, implants electrodes into their brains, restrains them, clamps their eyes open, and bombards them with sounds and lights for up to 12 hours. When the owls’ brains become too damaged to use for further experimentation, he kills them. PETA notes that only approval from a university animal care and use committee would exempt this mutilation and killing from Maryland’s cruelty-to-animals laws—and because JHU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approved Mysore’s experiments even though he lacked mandatory state permits for using owls for this purpose, its approval is invalid.

“Anyone who mutilates, torments, and kills owls without a required permit would certainly face cruelty-to-animals charges,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “Shreesh Mysore’s horrific experiments aren’t exempt from Maryland’s animal protection laws since he failed to get required permits, and PETA is asking the state’s attorney to hold him and Johns Hopkins University accountable.”

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that Mysore failed to obtain mandatory scientific collecting permits from 2015 to 2018—even though the agency sent him reminders—yet his experiments on barn owls continued during this time frame and may have involved owls’ deaths. He purports to experiment on owls to research human attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, despite significant hearing and vision differences between the species and his admission that results from experiments like these can be “misinterpret[ed].”

In 1981, PETA’s landmark Silver Spring monkeys investigation into the Institute for Behavioral Research—then a federally funded laboratory in Maryland—led to the nation’s first arrest and criminal conviction for cruelty to animals, the first confiscation of abused animals from a laboratory, and the first U.S. Supreme Court victory for animals used in experiments.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please click here, visit PETA.org, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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