PETA Demands Feds Act Following Botched Brain Surgeries on Animals at Johns Hopkins University

For Immediate Release:
May 11, 2023

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382


PETA is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate numerous incidents at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) for possible violations of federal animal welfare regulations after discovering that experimenters there allowed a rabbit to suffer with a massive tumor, while other animals endured unmitigated pain after botched brain surgeries.

PETA details the incidents at JHU laboratories in a letter sent today to a top USDA official, including the following:

  • A rabbit endured a liver tumor so large it spread to their lungs.
  • A rabbit’s skull incision burst open, another rabbit’s incision became infected, and a third rabbit developed neurological problems—all from unsanitary conditions in the lab and staff inattention.
  • A staffer never bothered to renew an application for further testing but continued heart surgery tests on a pig even after the experiment had expired.

“The laboratories at Johns Hopkins University have proved, yet again, incapable of or unwilling to uphold even the bargain basement protections for animals afforded by federal guidelines,” says PETA Vice President of International Laboratory Methods Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling for the USDA to investigate this disturbing culture of corruption and cruelty and to take meaningful corrective actions.”

JHU’s animal laboratories have a lengthy rap sheet of violations of animal welfare guidelines, including Shreesh Mysore’s notorious brain-scrambling studies on owls that even violated the state law of Maryland for at least seven years.

JHU’s laboratories were previously cited by the USDA for failing to give animals pain relief, using expired drugs, not reporting animals’ broken bones, and failing to maintain sterile areas—all in violation of basic federal animal protection requirements.

Despite this, JHU has received more than $1.1 billion in federal taxpayer funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2022, and nearly half that money went to animal experiments. Studies have shown that 95% of new drugs that test safe and effective in animals fail because they don’t work or are dangerous in humans.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—is calling on NIH to adopt the Research Modernization Deal developed by PETA scientists, which provides a strategic roadmap for replacing animal tests with modern, technologically advanced research methods.

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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