Graphic Photos Expose Sick, Suffering Rabbits at Bethyl Laboratories; PETA Urges USDA to Take Action

For Immediate Release:
September 27, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Montgomery, Texas

Photos just obtained by PETA from two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports reveal profound animal suffering and federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations at Bethyl Laboratories, which uses more than 1,800 rabbits, donkeys, sheep, and goats as living incubators for antibody production yet doesn’t even employ a full-time veterinarian. In a letter, PETA is calling on the USDA to hold Bethyl Laboratories accountable to the fullest extent allowable under the AWA.

Photos from an August 2021 inspection show a rabbit with inflamed open wounds on her feet held in a barren metal cage. The USDA inspector noted that even though the rabbit shifted back and forth in discomfort, she wasn’t receiving any treatment for her injuries—and the attending veterinarian wasn’t even aware of the issue. The facility was also cited for an ammonia odor in a warehouse holding hundreds of rabbits that was so strong it caused the inspector’s eyes to burn.

Photos from the second inspection in December 2021 reveal a rabbit with hair loss, a bloody wound on one foot, and old scarring on the same foot, indicating repeated injury. Another rabbit was squinting and had swelling, redness, and crustiness around one eye as well as a “buildup of green discharge and mucous.” This rabbit had apparently suffered with this eye problem for more than a month, yet a veterinarian was never notified. Bethyl Laboratories received no consequences for any of these violations.

“Gentle rabbits with bloody sores and seeping eyes are suffering without veterinary care in row after row of barren metal cages hanging from the walls of this warehouse, all for antibodies that can be produced without the use of animals,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on federal officials to hold Bethyl Laboratories accountable for mistreating animals and is urging the scientific community to pivot to non-animal methods that better protect human health.”

In an expert letter just published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioTechniques, scientists—including those from PETA Science Consortium International e.V.—outlined how recombinant antibodies best meet criteria to assess the reliability of research antibodies. Animal-free recombinant antibodies can be used in the same applications as antibodies produced in animals. They offer numerous scientific advantages over animal-derived antibodies and therefore have the potential to improve the overall quality of research.

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

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