Hamsters Kept in Complete Darkness in UMass Lab for Over 200 Days: PETA Statement

For Immediate Release:
July 8, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Amherst, Mass. – Please see the following statement from PETA neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe regarding federal documents that reveal a serious animal welfare violation in the laboratories of the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass). According to documents obtained by PETA through a Freedom of Information Act request, UMass experimenters held 10 golden hamsters in constant darkness for more than 200 days, in violation of the protocol that had been approved by the university’s animal experimentation oversight body.

The University of Massachusetts–Amherst’s (UMass) animal laboratories should lose their license to operate. Federal documents obtained by PETA reveal that the school’s experimenters went rogue and kept young hamsters in constant, complete darkness for 200 days, even though approval had been given for only half that duration. Apparently, UMass personnel lack both empathy and a willingness to follow the law. PETA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This is just the latest in a litany of violations at UMass: Mice have drowned, birds have starved to death, and zebrafish have died from overheating. In one incident, experimenters failed to give necessary pain relief to mice several hundred mice who had just undergone surgery. All these problems are in addition to the university’s use of fragile marmosets in deadly menopause experiments—even though these tiny monkeys don’t naturally experience menopause. UMass has been cited by the USDA for its mistreatment of marmosets in these experiments. In one incident, a marmoset was severely burned when experimenters put hand warmers on his body while he was recovering from surgery, leading to his death three days later. Another violation occurred when a marmoset escaped from a device that restrained him and was injured during recapture by staff, causing them to amputate his tail.

UMass must shut down its animal laboratories, beginning with its marmoset laboratory, and redirect its resources toward modern, non-animal research methods that will actually help humans. We urge officials there to adopt PETA’s Research Modernization Deal.

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please 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