USDA Investigating Emory After PETA Complaint: Monkey Death, Sponge Left in Monkey, and More

For Immediate Release:
September 8, 2021

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investigating Emory University and the affiliated Yerkes National Primate Research Center over alleged mistreatment of monkeys after PETA filed a complaint with the agency over violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

According to federal reports obtained by PETA through Freedom of Information Act requests, experimenters at Emory University failed to give adequate veterinary care to a rhesus macaque who’d been left with a surgical sponge inside her for four months following cesarean surgery and failed to sterilize a kidney biopsy needle properly between uses on two monkeys, risking the transmission of pathogens. Experimenters also apparently failed to communicate about a monkey’s past reaction to a particular substance—they carelessly gave the monkey an infusion of a similar compound, causing the animal to go into anaphylactic shock and die.

“It’s scarcely surprising that an institution that tears baby monkeys away from their mothers, addicts monkeys to drugs, cuts into their brains, infects them with diseases, and kills them also disregards basic animal welfare laws,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “PETA urges the USDA to take action to prevent callous Emory University experimenters from harming or killing even one more animal.”

Emory University has also racked up dozens of additional violations of federal animal welfare guidelines. Mice and rats died from starvation and/or dehydration, and living mice were found in a freezer intended for dead animals. Mice suffered complications after the tips of their tails were cut off, and the toes of mice over 7 days old were amputated, out of compliance with protocol.

Experimenters frequently deviated from approved protocols, causing animals greater suffering and distress.

Emory University and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center received $507,546,965 in taxpayer-funded grants from the National Institutes of Health in 2020 alone.

A Pew Research Center poll found that the majority of U.S. adults oppose the use of animals in scientific research. Studies show that a staggering 90% of basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to treatments for humans.

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

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