PETA Urges Feds to Act After Pain Relief Botched in Wake Forest Monkey Lab

For Immediate Release:
June 29, 2023

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382

Winston-Salem, N.C.

PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take action against Wake Forest University after experimenters violated multiple animal welfare regulations.

Federal reports obtained by PETA show that monkeys were forced to inhale too much carbon dioxide, which can cause tiredness, headaches, and shortness of breath and could lead to neurological symptoms. Another monkey was denied adequate pain relief after a device was surgically implanted into his body.

In a complaint to the USDA, PETA also highlights the culture of noncompliance in the university’s laboratories, as evidenced by its mistreatment of mice. Although mice and rats are excluded from any protection under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), Wake Forest failed to comply with minimum animal welfare guidelines governing the treatment of these animals, including in the following incidents:

  • Twelve mice died after receiving an experimental compound that included an unapproved chemical solvent.
  • Six mice died the day after experimenters gave them a high dose of a bacterial toxin.
  • Six mice starved to death after workers failed to feed them over a weekend.
  • Thirty-eight mice were subjected to painful blood draws from a vein behind their eyes.
  • Ten mice were subjected to experimental surgery and denied adequate pain relief. Six of them died.
  • An experimenter killed a mouse by breaking the animal’s neck without administering an anesthetic.
  • An experimenter picked up a rat by the tail to administer an injection, shearing away a layer of skin and tissue and exposing bone and tissue.

“Wake Forest’s failure to comply with federal animal welfare standards reflects its contempt for both animals and the taxpaying public funding its labs,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “PETA is calling on the USDA to take urgent action against this university due to its disregard for the law and animals’ lives.”

In 2022, the university and its affiliated Wake Forest University Health Sciences received more than $137 million from the National Institutes of Health, despite being cited by the feds 20 times for violating the AWA since 2014. Among those violations, a monkey strangled in his cage after becoming entangled in an “enrichment” device, an untrained experimenter carved into cats’ skulls and implanted hardware into their brains but failed to give them pain medication, and an experimenter stitched up a pig’s abdomen but left a towel inside their body—leading to the animal’s death.

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