PETA to Navy: Sink Gruesome Animal Decompression Experiments

For Immediate Release:
July 21, 2023

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


PETA is urging the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy to end cruel and ineffective decompression and oxygen toxicity experiments on rats, mice, and other animals currently being conducted at four major universities and bankrolled by the Navy with more than $3.8 million in taxpayer money.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, PETA calls for the end of these tests, which are now taking place at Duke University and the universities of Maryland, South Florida, and California–San Diego. Decompression sickness, commonly called “the bends,” and oxygen toxicity affect species in disparate ways because of major physiological differences between them.

PETA also sent letters to the leadership at those institutions (Duke, UMD, USF, UCSD) urging them to end the tests, noting that many non-animal research methods are more applicable to humans, including in vitro studies, reanalysis of existing human diver data, machine-learning techniques, and computer modeling.

In some of these experiments, thousands of rats and mice as young as 8 weeks old are forced to run on a treadmill and are electroshocked if they can’t keep up. In others, experimenters confine mice to a hyperbaric chamber, restrain them, insert a probe into their rectums, drill into their skulls, and inject chemicals into their brains. In yet other tests, experimenters induce seizures in rats without pain relief, cut into their abdomens, embed a recording device and battery inside them, drill into their skulls, and affix electrodes to them. The animals are killed after the experiments end, sometimes by bleeding them to death.

“The Navy can’t claim to be a world leader as long as it continues tormenting animals in barbaric tests that it knows are irrelevant to human health,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on secretaries Austin and Del Toro to switch to superior, human-relevant methods, as France and the U.K. have done, and stop wasting taxpayers’ money and animals’ lives.”

Last year, the Navy ended its funding of decompression tests conducted on sheep at the University of Wisconsin–Madison following a PETA appeal to Del Toro that was cosigned by retired Rear Admiral Dr. Marion Balsam.

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