The Nation’s Leading Research Agency Has Racked Up 169 Animal Welfare Violations in the Last Five Years
For Immediate Release:
May 4, 2023
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Washington – PETA is asking the top science advisor to the White House to step in and stop a long-running pattern of violations of federal animal welfare regulations at National Institutes of Health (NIH) laboratories after uncovering dozens of new incidents, including one in which staff gassed to death an escaped monkey infected with tuberculosis.
In a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, PETA reveals that NIH laboratories have repeatedly violated federal animal welfare regulations and guidelines—including 169 times over the past five years—frequently without meaningful consequence. PETA confirmed the violations via records it obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to the agency.
The most recent violations include 33 between May 2022 and January 2023, for incidents such as these:
- A monkey with tuberculosis—transmissible to humans—escaped and scrambled into the HVAC system. Staff gassed him to death after failing to capture him.
- A monkey died of dehydration after experimenters failed to provide water.
- A mouse drowned in a water maze test because staff didn’t want to disturb the video recording equipment in order to help the animal.
“These horrific deaths reveal a broken system, sloppy science, and a deadly lack of care,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “PETA is appealing to our nation’s leading science advisor to intervene, because both our nation’s research program and animals need protection.”
Animals in NIH laboratories have been deprived of food, water, and even air. Staff have denied pain relief to animals used in painful procedures. Experimenters have conducted unapproved experiments, further jeopardizing animals’ welfare.
NIH laboratories are exempt from annual inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to check for compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act. Instead, they follow a dubious system of “self-reporting” and self-regulation.
Studies show that 90% of basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to treatments for humans—yet NIH spends nearly half its annual budget on cruel animal studies. PETA’s Research Modernization Deal maps out a strategy for replacing the use of animals in experiments with advanced, humane methods.
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 PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.