Live-Mice Museum Exhibit Prompts PETA Appeal to Gallery, Artist

PETA Urges Joseph Grazi to Remove Frightened Mice From Castle Fitzjohns Exhibit

For Immediate Release:
October 31, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

New York – The use of mice, trapped under the see-through floorboards over which visitors walk in Joseph Grazi’s “Prehysteria” exhibit at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery, has resulted in innumerable complaints from the public—and led PETA to send an urgent letter today calling on Grazi and the gallery’s owner to do the decent thing by immediately removing the animals and sending them to safe adoptive homes.

In the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that displaying prey animals in plexiglass boxes underfoot puts them in constant fear of being trampled to death without escape. PETA also calls on Castle Fitzjohns Gallery to prohibit live-animal displays, pointing to the recent fiasco at the Guggenheim, where an overwhelming outcry prompted the museum to cancel exhibits that pitted reptiles against each other and glorified dogfighting.

“Forcing small animals into distressing situations is not creative but shows only an abiding ignorance of who animals are, their nature, and what makes them tick,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Expressing an artistic vision and making social commentary is no longer acceptable if it is attempted by exploitation of powerless individuals. We urge Castle Fitzjohns Gallery to step onto the right side of history.”

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PETA’s letter to Vincent Harrison, the owner of the gallery, and Joseph Grazi follows.

October 31, 2017

Vincent Harrison


Castle Fitzjohns Gallery

Joseph Grazi



Dear Messrs. Harrison and Grazi,

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide to urge you to remove the live mice being used as props in Joseph Grazi’s “Prehysteria” exhibit at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery.

In this installation, as you know, visitors are encouraged to walk on top of mice who are trapped in small plexiglass cages embedded in the floor, constantly causing these sensitive prey animals to be fearful of the possibility of being trampled to death, with no means of escape. These mice are not inanimate objects, and forcing sentient beings into distressing situations is not creative—it shows only an abiding ignorance of who animals are, their nature, and what makes them tick.

I’m sure you must be aware of the public backlash and the strength of public opinion in opposition to cruelty to animals that spurred the Guggenheim Museum’s recent decision to cancel two exhibits that pitted reptiles against each other and glorified dogfighting. That opposition is growing. It’s no longer acceptable to exploit animals in the name of art.

The College Art Association has several principles in place for artists who use live animals, including that “[n]o work of art should, in the course of its creation, cause physical or psychological pain, suffering, or distress to an animal.” We ask that Castle Fitzjohns Gallery remove the mice from this exhibit and no longer display exhibitions that cause distress to living beings.

Mice are highly social animals who experience fear, loneliness, and pain, just as humans do. They have nervous systems similar to our own and easily bond both with each other and with their human guardians. We urge the gallery to be on the right side of history by removing the live mice from “Prehysteria” and finding safe adoptive homes for them. We can help with that.

With animatronic mice and other substitutes for real animals on the market, there’s no need to make real mice suffer. Thank you for your consideration. I hope to hear good news from you soon.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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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