Johns Hopkins University Urged to End Animal Tests, Not Employee Benefits

School Should Cut Costs Amid COVID-19 by Nixing Cruel and Wasteful Experiments on Barn Owls and Other Animals, Says PETA

For Immediate Release:
May 11, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


After Johns Hopkins University (JHU) announced plans to cut employee benefits and prepare for layoffs because of financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, PETA fired off a letter offering the school a better way to cut costs: end its wasteful multimillion-dollar animal experimentation program, starting with experimenter Shreesh Mysore’s gruesome and deadly brain tests on barn owls.

In these experiments, which purport to seek information on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in humans but lack any relevancy to human health, Mysore cuts into owls’ skulls, inserts electrodes into their brains, and restrains the birds in an “experimental rig” in which they’re unable to move their wings. He then records their brain activity while forcing them to watch dots on a TV monitor or exposing them to bursts of noise through earphones. Funded by JHU with more than $1 million, Mysore intends to use 50 to 60 barn owls in the current set of painful experiments—including six birds just for surgical practice for his staff.

“JHU’s use of owls in invasive brain experiments as though they were nothing more than disposable laboratory equipment is shameful,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on the school to cut costs by ending its animal testing program, which has a bloated budget and a history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act that has resulted in the deaths of monkeys and other animals.”

Numerous published studies have shown that animal experimentation wastes resources and lives, as more than 90% of highly promising results from basic scientific research—much of it involving animal experimentation—fail to lead to treatments for humans. (Please read under “Lack of benefit for humans” here.) And 95% of new medications that are found to be effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.

PETA (whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”) also points out in its letter that JHU told experimenters to “reduce cage census” of animals and “euthanize extraneous animals” in response to COVID-19—a direction that begs the question of why the university is conducting noncritical experiments on animals in the first place.

PETA opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group’s full letter to JHU President Ronald J. Daniels is available here. For more information, please visit

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