Simpson College Takes Heat From PETA for Tormenting Rats in Psych Course

For Immediate Release:
August 1, 2023

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Indianola, Iowa – Today, PETA launched an action alert encouraging people to ask Simpson College President Marsha Kelliher to end the use of live rats in Professor of Psychology Don Evans’ undergraduate Learning and Behavior psychology course (PSYC 331) and switch to superior, non-animal teaching methods instead. In course experiments, students attempt to train the animals to push a lever in order to receive a drop of flavored water, and after the course ends, the rats are either adopted or killed.

“Simpson College gets a failing grade for caging and killing feeling, thinking animals in a useless effort to understand human psychology,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is urging the school to replace these cruel experiments with modern simulation programs that leave animals in peace.”

In a July 6 letter, PETA encouraged the college to transition to humane and high-tech training tools, such as CyberRat and Sniffy the Virtual Rat, that allow students to perform experiments ethically without harming animals.

Rats are highly social individuals who become emotionally attached to each other and form bonds with their human guardians. When playfully tickled, they make chirping sounds strikingly similar to human laughter. Rats also express empathy when other rats are in distress and put themselves in harm’s way rather than allowing another sentient being to suffer.

Studies show that most psychology students oppose the use of animals in psychology education and that the majority of psychologists and psychology students believe that live-animal experimentation should not be required in undergraduate courses.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind