JHU Skirted Law to Continue Experiments on Owls: PETA Statement

For Immediate Release:
July 11, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


Please see the following statement from PETA neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe regarding a new permit issued to Johns Hopkins University by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for the continuation of invasive and deadly brain experiments on owls, despite the school’s years of illegal activity:

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is skirting Maryland law, with the complicity of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), to continue invasive and deadly brain experiments on owls.

There’s no dispute that JHU broke the law by conducting these tests for four years without having mandatory state permits—and taxpayers have been footing the bill to the tune of $1.9 million. After PETA exposed this illegal activity, MD DNR issued a new permit, which JHU also violated by killing owls. The department then issued another permit that specifically barred the killing of these animals, which should have ended the experiments. However, it appears that MD DNR has now colluded with or bowed to pressure from JHU to try to find a work-around by issuing the school a separate new type of permit that allows for business as usual. It’s not clear that this permit is legal, and PETA will be reviewing the situation.

JHU is also falsely claiming that experiments, which have resulted in no benefits to a single human, are important to the understanding of human autism, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder—almost throwing in the common cold—even though psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and people with common sense are saying that they absolutely are not. The experiments—which involve cutting into barn owls’ skulls, implanting electrodes in their brains, forcing the birds into plastic tubes or jackets so cramped that they can’t move their wings, clamping their eyes open, and bombarding them with sounds and lights for up to 12 hours—will continue for the present, despite their worthlessness. The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) own analysis tool (see “Translation” tab) indicates that JHU’s owl experiments have a shockingly dismal 5% “approximate potential to translate” to human health, and PETA caught experimenter Shreesh Mysore admitting that attaching bolts to animals’ skulls in order to hold their heads in an unnaturally fixed position might cause him to “misinterpret what’s happening or misunderstand” the results.

NIH must immediately cut funding for JHU’s experiments on owls or risk being complicit in the blatant corruption of science and the law.

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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