Sanctuary Was Ready, but EVMS Killed Them; PETA Plans Protest on Wednesday

For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2024

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

PETA supporters—armed with blown-up photographs of one of the female olive baboons tormented in the laboratory of Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) experimenter Gerald Pepe—will protest outside the school on Wednesday, demanding that it end decades-old invasive experiments, shut down his lab, and fire him.

When: Wednesday, April 17, 12 noon

Where: Eastern Virginia Medical School (Colley Avenue just north of W. Brambleton Avenue), Norfolk (Please see the Google Maps link here.)

Pepe quietly killed four mother baboons—Jemma, Cookie, Toya, and Tara—after PETA shared with legislators information about his experiments’ critical and repeat violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The group secured an offer from an accredited primate sanctuary to accept the elderly baboons, but Pepe denied them that final bit of pleasure after they were kept alone for years—each confined to a small metal cage—and used in experiments too awful to contemplate.

It’s estimated that, since 1980,Pepe has tortured and killed hundreds of baboons in pregnancy experiments, injecting them with hormones and cutting out and killing their babies at various stages of development. He conducted up to six cesarean sections on each of the baboons—in violation of federal law—until May 2023, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture took the rare step of revoking permission for EVMS experimenters to continue performing multiple major survival surgeries on the animals.

After Pepe killed Jemma, Cookie, Toya, and Tara, PETA learned from the school that no baboons remain at EVMS. But the school has declined to say whether the other baboons used in the experiments were sent to other laboratories or killed and whether the animals will be replaced.

A baboon named Nikki, used in pregnancy and psychological experiments at EVMS. Image obtained from this video by PETA through the Virginia Public Records Act

“EVMS’ records show that many baboons were missing toes, fingers, and/or fingertips and that mother baboons endured trauma so severe that some were subjected to a second experiment to reduce the animals’ rocking, pacing, circling, and self-injurious behavior—such as pulling out their own hair and biting at the bars of their cages, causing damage to their teeth—all signs of desperation over confinement and deprivation,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Gerald Pepe denied four of his victims a chance to escape the pain and terror he had put them and so many others through over the last 40-plus years but chose to end their lives instead—and now it’s time for EVMS to end his career.”

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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