New PETA Virtual Reality Experience Promises ‘Close Encounters’ at University of Pennsylvania

For Immediate Release:
November 9, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Philadelphia – In a bid to encourage empathy for animals who are mutilated and killed in university laboratories, on Thursday PETA will have its University of Pennsylvania (Penn) launch of Abduction—a unique virtual reality experience that will land on college campuses across the country. In the eerie experience, visitors will enter a mysterious truck and put on a virtual reality headset. They’ll seemingly find themselves stranded in the desert with a couple of fellow humans, abducted by aliens, taken aboard a spaceship, and subjected to a terrifying experience similar to what animals endure in laboratories. They’ll watch as others are subjected to experiments—inspired by real tests done on animals—knowing that they’ll be next.

When:       Thursday and Friday, November 10 and 11, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Where:     Woodland Walk, 3405 Walnut St. (at the intersection with S. 36th Street), Philadelphia

Watch the trailer here. Broadcast-quality footage of the Abduction virtual reality experience is available upon request. Images from the first day of the Penn Abduction stop will be available on Thursday.

At Penn, experimenters injected young monkeys and piglets with a protein over a 10-minute period, causing severe toxicity in the animals. The monkeys exhibited symptoms of shock: hemorrhaging, difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, liver failure, hypothermia, pale mucous membranes, and fluid in the abdomen. And the piglets lost control of their muscles, profoundly impairing their ability to walk. The experimenters then killed all the animals.

One Penn experimenter left the university amid an investigation into his experiments that involved smashing piglets’ brains. First, he drilled a hole in the skulls of these babies. Then, he used a cylinder to hammer down on their exposed brains before mutilating and killing the sensitive piglets. This isn’t the first time that Penn experimenters have smashed animals’ brains. Baboons, cats, and rats have also been subjected to head trauma in the school’s laboratories.

“Many students don’t know that on their own college campuses, frightened and confused animals are being tormented, mutilated, and killed in cold, barren laboratories, with no way to escape or even understand what’s happening to them,” says PETA Senior Director Rachelle Owen. “PETA is on a mission to open young people’s eyes to this cruelty, help them understand what it feels like, and motivate them to join our call for a switch to superior, non-animal research.”

Studies show that 90% of all basic research—most of which involves animals—fails to lead to treatments for humans, which is why PETA is pushing universities to pivot to sophisticated, human-relevant research methods.

Abduction—which was filmed in VR180 with assistance from the virtual reality creation studio Prosper XR—has stopped at several other college campuses from coast to coast, including Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Broadcast-quality footage of the Abduction virtual reality experience is available upon request.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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