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Staff in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) laboratory allowed a monkey infected with tuberculosis to escape from a cage. He then took refuge in an HVAC system, threatening the health of other animals and humans alike.
Staff couldn’t coax the monkey out, so they gassed him to death with carbon dioxide instead.
This is one of the 33 violations of federal animal protection guidelines in NIH laboratories that PETA has uncovered in the eight months between May 2022 and January 2023. Ignoring animal welfare appears to be a way of life at our nation’s top scientific agency. NIH laboratories have racked up an astounding 169 animal welfare violations in the past five years.
That’s why PETA is asking the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to step in, put an end to this cruelty, and fire the violators. But we need your help.
“NIH has thus far chosen to turn a blind eye to the systemic problems in its laboratories, so we turn to you to intercede for the sake of animal welfare, sound science, public trust, and the U.S.’ position as a global leader in biomedical research,” our letter says.
More Animal Deaths
Among the dozens of horrors PETA uncovered, a monkey died of dehydration after NIH staffers failed to provide water. Experimenters allowed a mouse to drown while being used in a water maze test because the experimenter didn’t want to disturb the video tracking system by pulling the animal to safety.
Animals in NIH laboratories have been deprived of food, water, and even air. Staff have denied pain relief to animals used in painful procedures. Experimenters have even conducted unapproved experiments, further jeopardizing the welfare of animals and completely ignoring good scientific practice.
Self-Policing Means No Policing
NIH laboratories are exempt from annual inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to check for compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act. Instead, they follow a dubious system of “self-reporting” and self-regulation that clearly isn’t working.
Meaningful action must be taken to end this ongoing abuse and flagrant violation of animal welfare guidelines. Staff who fail to provide animals with necessities such as food, water, and safe shelter must be booted from the premises permanently. And fundamentally, the agency must cease pointless, archaic experiments on animals and implement modern, human-relevant research methods, such as organs-on-chips, organoids, bioinformatics, and 3-D tissue printing.
What You Can Do
NIH spends nearly half its $43 billion annual budget on cruel animal experiments, even though 90% of basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to treatments for humans.
Please take a minute to send a polite e-mail to your members of Congress urging them to mandate that NIH stop throwing away taxpayer money on cruel, useless animal experiments and instead focus on modern, non-animal research methods.