PETA’s Newest Virtual Reality Experience Promises Close Encounters at Penn State

For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2023

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

State College, Pa.

To encourage empathy for animals who are mutilated and killed in university laboratories, PETA is visiting Pennsylvania State University today with Abduction, a unique virtual reality experience landing on college campuses across the country. In this eerie experience, visitors will enter a mysterious truck containing a mobile virtual reality studio. The students will seemingly find themselves stranded in the desert with a couple of fellow humans, abducted by aliens, taken aboard a spaceship, and subjected to a shocking experience similar to what animals endure in laboratories. They’ll watch as their friends are subjected to experiments—knowing that they’ll be next.

When:    September 25, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Where:    Hetzel Union Building lawn, Penn State, State College

Watch the trailer here. Broadcast-quality footage of the Abduction virtual reality experience is available upon request.

Experimenters at Penn State injected rabbits with virus strains, causing severe swelling, deformities, and fatalities. The rabbits exhibited grossly swollen heads, ears, eyelids, and anogenital regions, and in severe cases, their thickened skin caused folds to develop over their faces, leading to closed eyelids at the time of death. Respiratory distress, collapse, trembling, fluid accumulation in tissues, and dangerously high body temperatures were also observed. Most of the rabbits succumbed to these symptoms, while the surviving ones were euthanized.

Other experimenters induced severe defects in 4-week-old mice by feeding them toxic chemicals known to cause serious health problems in both mice and humans. The experimenters then fed half the mice a high-fat junk-food diet to study the interactions between early life exposure to toxic chemicals and obesity- and diabetes-inducing diets. After 21 weeks, the mice were killed and dissected. Other experimenters infected ferrets with avian influenza viruses and observed the transmission between infected and uninfected ferrets. Despite acknowledging multiple times in their paper that data from the experiments wouldn’t necessarily apply to humans, they subjected the ferrets to confinement to a steel box and daily sedation and nasal washes for three weeks. The ferrets were then sedated and bled to death. The experimenters concluded their study by stating that their sample size was insufficient for meaningful conclusions.

“Many students don’t know that on their own college campuses, frightened and confused animals are being tormented, mutilated, and killed in cold, barren laboratories, with no way to escape or even understand what’s happening to them,” says Senior Director of peta2 Rachelle Owen. “PETA is on a mission to open young people’s eyes to this cruelty, help students understand what it feels like, and motivate them to join our call for a switch to superior, non-animal research.”

Studies show that 90% of all basic research—most of which involves animals—fails to lead to treatments for humans, which is why PETA is pushing universities to pivot to sophisticated, human-relevant research methods.

Abduction—which was filmed in VR180 with assistance from the virtual reality creation studio Prosper XR—has stopped at nearly three dozen college campuses over the last year, including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California–Los Angeles, and the University of Texas–Austin.

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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