PETA to New York Governor and State Department of Health: Shut Down Animal Labs

Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases, Group Slams Waste of Animals’ Lives, Taxpayer Money and Risk to Public Health

For Immediate Release:
December 9, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

New York – Spiking COVID-19 cases are compromising New York’s reopening plan, and PETA is calling on the governor and the New York State Department of Health to cut cruel animal experiments statewide—starting with tests on animals, many of whom institutions deemed to be non-essential in response to the pandemic—and protect human health by having staff not come into laboratories to conduct worthless experiments.

In its letter, PETA points out that during the initial COVID-19 shutdown, universities in New York issued guidance deeming many of their experiments—and the animals used in them—extraneous, which resulted in the apparent euthanasia of numerous animals in their laboratories, including the following:

  • The City University of New York (CUNY) urged its experimenters to “[suspend] projects and not start new projects requiring on-site activities,” and it informed them that “[o]rders for additional animals should be suspended.”
  • Columbia University announced “a rapid ramping down of research activities.”
  • Cornell University implemented a contingency plan to “identify all essential animal cages” and “essential tanks” and to “cease all invasive research procedures.”
  • New York University announced that “non-essential research” was suspended and “[o]nly critical research” was allowed to continue.
  • Rockefeller University urged its experimenters to “identify essential research experiments,” admitting that “[t]his high priority work should be a very limited set of the current laboratory bench-based experimentation,” and to implement “actions such as reducing or cessation of breeding, unless critical to maintain the mouse strain.” It also suspended “[a]ll bench-based laboratory activity, with the exception of COVID-19-related research projects.”

PETA questions why animals deemed by these universities to be extraneous are being bought, bred, trapped, or experimented on in the first place and notes that staff conducting these experiments are being put at unnecessary risk as a result of working in close proximity to others. In addition, if animal testing resumes and New York shuts down again, more animals may be euthanized, wasting taxpayer money that could have funded superior, human-relevant studies.

“This pandemic should be a wake-up call to shift away from experiments on animals and toward a ‘new normal’ of modern, non-animal research methods,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on state officials to learn from the past and keep all animals from suffering in cruel and wasteful tests.”

More than 90% of results from basic scientific research—much involving animal testing—fails to lead to treatments for humans, and 95% of new medications found to be safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.

PETA previously called for an audit of public money, personnel, property, equipment, and space used by CUNY for animal tests deemed non-essential, noting that the university received nearly $2.1 billion in state appropriations in the last fiscal year, some of which may have funded such animal experiments.

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, click here, or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

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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