PETA Files Lawsuit Over LSU’s Refusal to Release Public Documents

Group Seeks Records Revealing Deaths of Wild-Caught Sparrows Used in Christine Lattin’s Traumatizing Stress Tests

For Immediate Release:
December 15, 2020

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Baton Rouge, La. – This morning, PETA filed a lawsuit that seeks to compel Louisiana State University (LSU) to disclose records, as required by the Louisiana Public Records Act, related to LSU experimenter Christine Lattin’s taxpayer-funded experiments on sparrows.

Lattin is conducting experiments involving trapping sparrows, pumping them with sex hormones, exposing them to terrifying calls from predators, and then killing them. PETA submitted seven requests for public records to LSU from May 30, 2019, to June 9, 2020, including four requests for veterinary-care and disposition records—i.e., records documenting the deaths of birds via deliberate killing at the termination of experiments or in the course of them—for birds used in Lattin’s laboratory. To date, LSU has not provided any records in response to these requests.

“Louisiana’s residents have a right to know if their tax dollars are funding the abuse of birds in LSU’s laboratories,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA looks forward to receiving these records and learning how sparrows lived and died for Christine Lattin’s cruel experiments.”

PETA also requested correspondence related to Lattin’s prospective or planned trapping of or experimentation on birds, videographic records related to her experiments, and other records.

Earlier this year, after obtaining documents revealing that Lattin apparently captured, caged, and killed approximately 80 sparrows—and planned to capture and kill more than 100 others—PETA sent a letter to the Office of the Parish Attorney requesting an investigation into Lattin’s apparent violation of the Baton Rouge bird-protection ordinance, which clearly states that it’s “unlawful to trap, hunt, shoot or molest” birds.

This ordinance was gutted in March, when the city council added a loophole—apparently under pressure from the university—that permits capturing, tormenting, and killing birds for experiments. The law was changed after the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control director met with Lattin on three separate occasions to advise her that trapping and killing birds in East Baton Rouge Parish was illegal.

PETA along with local counsel—Alysson Mills of Mills & Amond LLP—filed the lawsuit against the LSU Board of Supervisors and Thomas Galligan, individually and in his capacity as president of LSU, as LSU’s designated records custodian under Louisiana law.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview.

For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram or click here.

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— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind