Veterans, PETA Urge Navy to End Decompression Tests on Animals After Damning Records Exposed

For Immediate Release:
April 9, 2024

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


In a letter sent today, more than 100 U.S. Navy veterans joined PETA to urge Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro to end cruel and irrelevant decompression sickness and oxygen toxicity experiments on pigs and other animals.

Documents obtained by PETA reveal that among myriad atrocities at the Naval Medical Research Command (NMRC), experimenters sliced open baby pigs, implanted devices in them, and locked them in high-pressure chambers for up to eight days before killing them. Also at the NMRC, a rat suffocated after an equipment malfunction—an incident the experimenter failed to report for 23 days—and a pig endured severe escalation of body temperatures and muscle contractions after being administered a drug and then was killed. Potentially faulty sedatives may have prolonged their suffering. Another pig suffered for up to four hours, thrashing, following an apparent negative reaction to a drug and was ultimately killed.

Since 2020, the U.S. Navy has also bankrolled decompression sickness and oxygen toxicity tests on animals at four universities using more than $4.9 million in taxpayer money.

Records obtained by PETA show that at the University of California–San Diego, Navy-funded experimenters locked rats in pressure chambers, forced them to inhale radioactive gas, and electroshocked them if they failed to run on treadmills. Records obtained by the group from the University of South Florida reveal that the lead experimenter falsely claimed that he wasn’t withholding pain relief from at least 70 mice and 153 rats being used in oxygen toxicity tests—even though they’re “Category E” experiments, which cause prolonged pain without analgesia.

“The Pentagon is prioritizing bad science and animal suffering over decent care for service members,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA and Navy veterans want these archaic experiments on animals—which haven’t changed treatments for humans in decades—replaced with superior, human-relevant research.”

There’s precedence to stop these tests. The Navy pulled the plug on its funding of decompression tests conducted on sheep at the University of Wisconsin–Madison following PETA’s appeal to Del Toro that was cosigned by retired Rear Adm. Marion J. Balsam, M.D., former commander of the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

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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