Johns Hopkins Owl Experimenter Apparently Violated Law, Admits Bolting Skulls Is Flawed

PETA Files Federal, University Complaints Citing Shreesh Mysore's Lack of State Permits and Audio Record Criticizing His Own Brain Surgery Method

For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Baltimore – Newly released evidence obtained by PETA—which was included in complaints that it has filed with the National Eye Institute (NEI) and Johns Hopkins University (JHU)—shows that a taxpayer-funded experimenter at the school has apparently violated Maryland law and admitted in a recent audio recording that the traumatic methods used in his owl experiments may be misleading.

In its letters, PETA points to an audio recording from earlier this month in which Shreesh Mysore acknowledged that experimenting on owls whose heads are surgically fixed in place could “change the way the brain is solving problems, and we might misinterpret what’s happening, or misunderstand, if we do this in head-fixed animals.” Yet in his experiments, he attaches bolts to owls’ skulls in order to hold their heads still, in addition to locking them in restraining devices for up to 12 hours at a time, clamping their eyes open, and bombarding them with noises and lights.

PETA also notes that Mysore appears to have violated state law in failing to obtain a legally required permit from 2015 to 2018 to possess protected birds for his experiments, which are currently set to use 50 to 60 barn owls, including six birds just for surgical practice for his staff.

“We now know that in addition to being cruel, the brain experiments on owls conducted by Shreesh Mysore are apparently illegal and admittedly worthless,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “That’s why PETA is calling on the National Eye Institute to pull the plug on its $1.5 million grant to Mysore and on Johns Hopkins University to end this junk science.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group’s letters to NEI Acting Director Santa Tumminia, Ph.D.; NEI Division of Extramural Activities Acting Director Anne E. Schaffner, Ph.D.; and JHU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Chair Nancy Ator, Ph.D., are available here and here.

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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