USDA Fines UMB After Baboon at School Bled to Death, Baboon at Johns Hopkins Strangled; PETA Calls For Criminal Investigations

For Immediate Release:
July 9, 2024

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


PETA is calling on local law-enforcement authorities to investigate separate incidents at two Maryland universities in which baboons died. In one case, laboratory workers allowed a baboon to bleed out, and in the other, workers allowed one to become strangled—each death an apparent violation of state cruelty-to-animals laws. One death resulted in a just-levied fine by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—an extremely rare step for the agency. Linked here are letters from PETA to Baltimore Police Department Southeastern District Commander Maj. Alberto Colón and University of Maryland–Baltimore (UMB) Police Chief Thomas Leone.

In the first incident, a baboon used in experiments at UMB pulled an improperly secured IV line into their cage during the night of October 26, 2023. The baboon bit through the IV line, which had been inserted into a vein, and bled to death over the course of four hours. According to a USDA inspection report, staff didn’t notice the incident until 7:30 a.m., by which time the baboon was unresponsive. The agency just fined the school a paltry sum—a rare move that signals the severity of the violation.

In the second incident, a Johns Hopkins University laboratory worker found a young baboon “unconscious and entangled” in a line that supplied drinking water into the cage. The baboon was euthanized, and a necropsy report identified bruising on the animal’s neck. No safeguards were in place to prevent the baboon from pulling on the line, according to a USDA report.

A mother and baby olive baboon

“These horrifying deaths are evidence of callousness and incompetence,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland–Baltimore should be investigated, prosecuted, and barred from using animals entirely.”

Federal documentation also shows that as many as 40 baboons used by UMB apparently went two days without their daily ration of primate biscuits after their feeder was simply “not present” from March 30 to 31. 

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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