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Scores of animals who were previously slated for use in archaic laboratory experiments have been deemed by institutions as not "essential" and slaughtered as university labs shutter or dramatically ramp down operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Animal experiments in labs across the U.S. and Canada are being ramped down, curtailed, or delayed, leading to a mass purge of animals not considered "critical" to the testing. But all this time, billions in taxpayer dollars have annually been funneled into these labs to fund these cruel tests because experimenters argue that animal testing is needed to advance human health.
But now, suddenly, poof! Experimenters are acknowledging that countless animals are actually unnecessary for medical research. Just like that. It's the kind of turn-around that could make your head spin. It begs the question: Why are taxpayer dollars being used on experiments that can easily be ended or delayed or that involve animals who, apparently, are considered by many universities to be extraneous to the testing in the first place?
Studies show that 90% of all basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to human treatments. Also, 95% of all new medications that test safe and effective in animals fail in human trials. Yet the National Institutes of Health spends nearly half of its $40 billion research budget on animal tests, and universities—which are the primary recipients—don't want to stop this gravy train.
Animals can feel pain in the same way as humans. Just like us, they value their lives and don't want to suffer. Rats, for instance, who make up a large percentage of animals in laboratories, have taught themselves to open other rats' cage doors and have been shown to come to their aid instead of accepting a treat. In the ways that matter, humans and other animals are the same. There is no moral justification for exploiting animals for human purposes.
Leading a national effort, PETA has fired off letters to dozens of institutions that have directed staff to ramp down experiments, designate high numbers of animals as nonessential, and then kill them as part of the schools' COVID-19 response. Among other things, we demand that facilities be transparent and release the following key information to the public, since many of their animal experiments are taxpayer-funded:
- A list of the animal experiments that will not continue since officials categorized them as extraneous, noncritical, nonessential, ramped down, disposable, or unnecessary
- The number and species of animals who are used in these experiments
- A notice of if, when, and how many of these animals have been and/or will be killed
Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, the University of California–San Diego, Washington State University, Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Michigan are among the institutions that PETA has called out for telling staff to kill animals deemed nonessential to experiments—a practice that the University of Montana classified as "reducing population numbers" of animals in laboratories.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, PETA urges every research university receiving public funds to do the following:
- Stop all current and new animal experiments
- Ban the breeding and purchase of animals for laboratories
- Finalize and end ongoing experiments on animals
- Prove that all these animals and experiments are concretely advancing human health—which we know universities can't do—and, if not, then switch to superior, non-animal research methods
You can help animals in laboratories at dozens of institutions. Take action now.