PETA Files State Complaint Against Johns Hopkins Owl Torture Over Missing Legally Required Permits

For Immediate Release:
February 23, 2021

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Baltimore – This morning, PETA filed a formal complaint with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) alleging that Johns Hopkins University (JHU) experimenter Shreesh Mysore failed to obtain mandatory permits for his gruesome and deadly brain experiments on owls. PETA’s open-records requests and discussions with the agency reveal that there are no records of permits from 2015 to 2018 covering the use of these legally protected birds. The group is requesting that the DNR permanently bar Mysore from obtaining a permit to possess owls for experimentation.

In his experiments, Mysore cuts into barn owls’ skulls, implants electrodes in their brains, forces the birds into plastic tubes or jackets so cramped that they can’t move their wings, clamps their eyes open, and bombards them with sounds and lights for up to 12 hours. Eventually, the owls are killed. Purportedly, the experiments are done to study attention deficit disorder, but Mysore has publicly admitted that attaching bolts to owls’ skulls in order to hold their heads in a fixed position—which is not how owls perceive noise and movement in nature—might cause him to “misinterpret what’s happening or misunderstand” the results.

“If Johns Hopkins can’t even bother to file required paperwork with the state, it shouldn’t be allowed to conduct complex brain surgeries on live animals,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “Illegally using and killing owls in taxpayer-funded experiments is unacceptable, and PETA urges the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to bar permits for this admittedly worthless practice.”

Funded by the National Eye Institute and JHU to the tune of more than $2.5 million, Mysore is using up to 50 to 60 barn owls in his experiments, including six birds just for surgical practice for his staff. Numerous published studies have shown that animal experimentation wastes resources and lives, as more than 90% of results from basic scientific research—much of it involving animal testing—fail to lead to treatments for humans.

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

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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