Hundreds of Animals Denied Pain Relief, Others Burned, Tortured in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Laboratories

PETA Files Cruelty Complaint With District Attorney

For Immediate Release:
June 28, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Chapel Hill, N.C.

After uncovering 33 violations of federal animal welfare guidelines in University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill laboratories from March 2017 to January 2022, PETA called on Chatham County District Attorney James R. Woodall Jr. today to investigate and, if appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against those responsible.

The federal reports obtained by PETA document scores of incidents in which animals suffered and died, including the following:

  • While anesthetizing a pig, experimenters failed to open the pressure-relief valve on the machine, causing the animal’s chest and abdomen to become distended and leading to cardiac arrest.
  • Experimenters failed to give adequate pain relief to more than 250 mice and rats undergoing painful, invasive procedures.
  • Three guinea pigs sustained third-degree burns across their backs after experimenters applied heating pads to the animals and failed to monitor them during surgery.
  • Sixty-two mice died or had to be euthanized after experimenters gave them the wrong dose of influenza virus.
  • Experimenters violated protocols on at least six occasions, causing mice to suffer from enormous tumors, low bodyweight, or lethal radiation.
  • An experimenter subjected 12 mice to unapproved injections into their brains, and two mice died after experimenters injected an experimental substance behind their eyes.

“UNC-Chapel Hill’s labs are cesspools of misery and death for the animals imprisoned within their walls,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “PETA is calling on the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office to investigate these repeated violations and take steps to prosecute those responsible.”

UNC-Chapel Hill received more than $498 million in taxpayer funds last year from the National Institutes of Health. Roughly half went toward experiments on animals—yet the school has failed to comply with federal animal welfare guidelines and, it seems, state anti-cruelty law.

UNC-Chapel Hill has a long history of chronic and systemic violations of federal animal welfare guidelines. PETA conducted two undercover investigations into the university’s laboratories in 2002 and 2003 and documented that rats and mice were denied adequate space, food, water, and veterinary care. Many were even denied humane euthanasia—instead subjected to severe trauma, prolonged suffering, and agonizingly slow and grisly deaths.

In addition to writing a letter to the district attorney, PETA is calling on UNC-Chapel Hill’s president to embrace PETA scientists’ Research Modernization Deal, a plan to replace useless animal experiments with modern, animal-free technology.

Numerous published studies have shown that animal experimentation wastes resources and lives, as 95% of new medications found to be safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.

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

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