PETA to Pennsylvania Governor and 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 8, 2020

Amanda Tumbleson 202-483-7382


Spiking COVID-19 cases are compromising Pennsylvania’s reopening plan, and PETA is calling on the governor and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to cut cruel animal experiments statewide—starting with tests on animals 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 Pennsylvania 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:

  • Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) asked its experimenters to prepare “for a ramp down of research” and to consider “means to reduce the required husbandry” by “decreasing animal census numbers, ceasing breeding activities” and, if necessary, “depopulating [their] animal colon[ies].”
  • Drexel University suspended “on-campus, non-critical research activities” and urged its experimenters to “cull all non-critical animals,” stating that “[n]on-critical animals should be euthanized.”
  • Penn State University urged its experimenters to “immediately begin preparing for all on-campus research to be reduced to essential research-related activities by March 24,” informed them that “no new animal work may be initiated” starting March 23, and asked them to “[p]repare to terminate projects that are underway,” “[r]educe breeding to a minimal level,” and “[i]dentify critical/priority cages (founder stock for breeding colonies, irreplaceable animals, etc.).”
  • The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) urged its experimenters to “[i]dentify all non-essential research-related activities that can be delayed, ramped down, curtailed, or suspended … and begin the process to do so.”

PETA questions why animals deemed by the 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 Pennsylvania 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 of it 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 Penn State and Pitt for animal tests deemed non-essential, noting that the universities received nearly $473 million 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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