Newest Virtual Reality Experience From peta2 Promises Close Encounters at UT-Austin

For Immediate Release:
March 7, 2024

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Austin, Texas

To encourage empathy for animals suffering in university laboratories, peta2—part of PETA’s youth division—is visiting the University of Texas at Austin today and tomorrow with Abduction, an award-winning virtual reality experience landing on college campuses across the country. In this eerie experience, visitors will enter a mysterious truck containing a mobile virtual reality studio. The students will seemingly find themselves stranded in the desert with a couple of fellow humans, abducted by aliens, taken aboard a spaceship, and subjected to a shocking experience, similar to what animals endure in laboratories. They’ll watch as their friends are subjected to painful tests—knowing that they’ll be next.

When:    Thursday, March 7, and Friday, March 8, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Where:    Winship Circle Amplified Sound Area, UT-Austin, Austin

Text reads: Imagine having your body left to science-while you're still in it. Abduction arriving at a campus near you this springWatch the trailer here. Broadcast-quality footage of the Abduction virtual reality experience is available upon request.

Experiments at UT-Austin have included subjecting rats to alcohol binges in order to cause brain damage and trapping starved rats in chambers that delivered shocks to their feet. Experimenters also forced mice to consume alcohol for 20 days, locked them in chambers filled with ethanol vapors, repeatedly took blood from their tails, then killed them and cut off their heads. Other experimenters cut open frogs’ skulls to expose their brains, immobilized them, mounted them on a foam tray while still alive, and subjected them to loud noises. Experimenters also surgically implanted recording devices in marmosets’ brains, then forced them to run on a wheel while viewing different images on a screen and “rewarded” them with drops of juice.

Federal inspectors found that due to laboratory staff negligence, a monkey was given inadequate pain relief, a marmoset sustained injuries because a cage hadn’t been properly secured, and a vole was improperly euthanized and found alive, likely in a pile of dead bodies.

“Many students don’t know that on their own college campuses, frightened and confused animals are being psychologically tormented, mutilated, and killed in laboratories, with no way to escape or even understand what’s happening to them,” says peta2 Senior Director Rachelle Owen. “peta2 is on a mission to open young people’s eyes to this cruelty, help students 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 peta2 is pushing universities to pivot to sophisticated, human-relevant research methods.

Abduction—which was filmed in VR180 with assistance from the immersive content creation studio Prosper XR—has stopped at nearly 50 other college campuses over the past year, including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California–Los Angeles. Abduction won Gold and Audience honors at the 2023 Shorty Impact Awards.

peta2—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—helps young people make meaningful changes for animals in their everyday lives. For more information, please visit or follow the group on TikTok or Instagram.

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