PETA Urges Inspector General to Investigate Botched NIH-Funded Animal Experiments in Wisconsin

For Immediate Release:
April 11, 2024

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Madison, Wis.

PETA is calling for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General now that the federal agency charged with policing animal experimentation facilities has failed to adequately address a string of alarming animal welfare violations—including the deaths of mice in laboratories at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW-Madison), violations of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy) in laboratories at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC), and repeated incidents of noncompliance at several other institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In a letter sent today, PETA lays out the case for an investigation by the HHS inspector general due to the failure of NIH, an agency under the HHS umbrella, to take meaningful action against the institutions that NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) has failed to investigate properly.

“The failure of NIH to take action for critical violations of federal animal welfare policy is deeply concerning and allows institutions like the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center to continue endangering animals in laboratories with impunity and at taxpayers’ expense,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on the inspector general to investigate these serious matters along with the disturbing pattern of cruelty to animals at various institutions and to take meaningful corrective action.”

PETA obtained federal case reports from 2019 to 2023 that document five separate incidents at UW-Madison in which mice endured agonizing deaths because they had no food or water. In each case, the university assured OLAW that it had retrained employees to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and OLAW accepted these assurances. By failing to insist that the university implement additional measures to prevent such incidents from recurring, OLAW enabled future incidents at UW-Madison in which mice died of starvation or dehydration.

A complaint from PETA detailed evidence and presented footage of monkeys suffering at the WNPRC, including a monkey as young as 14 months old with chronic diarrhea, animals with self-inflicted injuries likely stemming from the psychological stresses of their environment, and ones suffering from rectal prolapse, among other disturbing conditions. But OLAW failed to hold the institution accountable and closed the case, predominantly accepting the WNPRC’s standard operating procedures as sufficient.

Despite this, NIH has lavished UW-Madison with $855,533,273 and the WNPRC with $21,225,913 in federal taxpayer money since 2022.

OLAW has also failed in its oversight of several other institutions—including Cleveland Clinic, The Jackson Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, the University of California–Los Angeles, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Washington National Primate Research Center—as outlined in PETA’s letter to the HHS Office of Inspector General.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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