Penn State Among Universities ID’d by PETA Involved in ‘Mass Killing Spree’ During Pandemic

For Immediate Release:
October 26, 2023

Kendall Davis 202-483-7382

State College, Pa.

PETA is calling on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate and act on newly obtained public records showing that eight universities—including Pennsylvania State University—killed animals deemed nonessential to experiments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Records obtained by PETA show that Penn State staffer Michelle Irish discussed euthanizing animals en masse during COVID-19 laboratory restrictions. “I am gutted by the mass euthanasia I’ve both witnessed and been directed to do,” Irish writes in an American Association for Laboratory Animal Science listserv thread on April 10, 2020, confirming that animals deemed extraneous were killed during the pandemic.

PETA’s letter to NIH also urges the agency to stop wasting taxpayer money on animal experiments. It follows PETA’s prior complaints about related killing sprees at 14 other universities. At least 25,000 animals were killed in these schools’ laboratories during this period—representing more than $9 million in NIH waste.

Brown mice crowd on top of each other in a small container. Photo: PETA

“University labs across the country deemed thousands of animals ‘unnecessary’ to their research, which begs the question why any of these animals were bought, bred, and experimented on in the first place,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is urging NIH to investigate this shameful mass killing spree and is calling on universities to adopt superior, animal-free research so that animals’ lives and taxpayers’ dollars are no longer wasted.”

In hellish laboratories across the U.S. each year, tens of millions of animals are poisoned, burned, cut into, emotionally traumatized, and infected with diseases while they endure extreme stress and frustration. Studies show that 90% of basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to treatments for humans—yet NIH spends nearly half its annual budget on animal studies.

Other NIH-funded institutions newly identified by PETA as having apparently euthanized animals deemed extraneous to experiments during the pandemic include Ferris State University, Montana State University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, Tulane University, the University of Georgia, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and West Virginia University.

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, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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