For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2023
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Chattanooga, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee (UT) College of Medicine (UTCOM) will immediately stop using live pigs in its surgical and medical training programs following a rigorous, 17-month PETA campaign against the practice.
This major announcement came in a letter to PETA from Peter Buckley, chancellor of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, which oversees UTCOM. Buckley said that “the use of live animals in the surgical and emergency medical training programs at the COM’s Chattanooga campus….will no longer be a necessary component of this training.”
The decision came after more than 97,000 PETA supporters wrote to university leadership urging an end to the school’s pig mutilation medical training drills. PETA also engaged Emmy Award winner and star of Babe James Cromwell to write to school leadership and confronted Buckley as well as other UT officials at campus events. Supporters spoke out at UT Board of Trustees meetings in February 2023 and October 2022 and wrote complaint letters to UT System President Randy Boyd and Buckley. PETA also ran a full-page ad in the Commercial Appeal, the most widely circulated newspaper in the Mid-South, and took other campaign actions.
“PETA thanks the University of Tennessee College of Medicine for doing right by pigs, physicians, and patients in ending its gruesome training drills in which live animals were mutilated,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “Modernizing surgical and trauma training will save human and nonhuman lives.”
Last year, after hearing from PETA, UTCOM’s hospital partner, Erlanger Health System, announced a new policy banning its staff—as well as its emergency medevac provider, LIFE FORCE—from participating in live-animal medical training drills, including those at UTCOM.
Previously, UTCOM leadership had said that public discovery of its animal drills would “be very damaging to the College of Medicine and [its] credibility” in an internal e-mail obtained by PETA.
UTCOM training sessions involved inducing collapsed lungs, cutting into an artery to induce bleeding, and cracking open the ribs if resuscitating the pigs failed. The animals who survived the intrusive drills were killed. Studies show that medical skills learned on pigs don’t effectively translate to the treatment of human patients because of significant anatomical and physiological differences between the species, whereas medical professionals who learned lifesaving surgical skills on human simulators are more proficient.
PETA is now urging Oregon Health & Science University to stop using live pigs as human stand-ins to practice surgeries during its obstetrics and gynecology residency training program and instead switch to more effective human patient simulators.