Johns Hopkins Faces Scrutiny Over Invasive Experiments on Owls

PETA Alerts Feds to Glaring Inadequacies in Application to Restrain and Perform Experimental Surgeries on Dozens of Owls in Basement Laboratory

For Immediate Release:
April 30, 2019

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Baltimore – Today, PETA filed a complaint calling on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate NIH-funded experiments on owls by Johns Hopkins University experimenter Shreesh Mysore.

Mysore cuts into the owls’ skulls, inserts electrodes into their brains, restrains the birds in an “experimental rig” in which they’re unable to move their wings, and records their brain activity while forcing them to watch dots on a TV monitor or exposing them to bursts of noise through earphones. According to his grant application to the National Eye Institute, which PETA obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, he intends to use 50 to 60 owls in experiments—including six birds just for surgical practice for his staff—over the five-year grant period.

However, in his application, Mysore fails to describe the restraining devices or specify how long he will restrain the owls. He provides scant information on pain medication used and surgical and postoperative monitoring.

Mysore claims that his experiments could help humans with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD). However, significant differences between the visual processing systems of owls and those of humans sharply limit the relevance and translatability of Mysore’s experiments to human disorders. Moreover, the owls’ confinement in an unnatural environment and the use of artificial stimulation introduce additional confounding factors.

“The government should not be handing out hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars for experimenters to torment and mutilate animals at will,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on the National Institutes of Health to demand full accountability from Shreesh Mysore and, if necessary, pull his funding.”

Johns Hopkins University receives more funding from NIH than any other school in the country, much of which is wasted on cruel, curiosity-based experiments that are irrelevant to human health. Mysore, in particular, has received more than $1.3 million in tax-funded grants from the agency.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on,” and the group opposes speciesism, the human-supremacist view that other animals are nothing more than commodities. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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