Owls' Skulls Cut Open at Johns Hopkins: Take Action Now!

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Update: May 11, 2021
It’s official: Shreesh Mysore’s brain-mangling experiments on owls at Johns Hopkins University are cruel and useless and, according to a Maryland state agency, have been illegal for years.

After we supplied evidence to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that from 2015 through 2018, Mysore failed to obtain permits needed to imprison and torture owls in his laboratory, it confirmed that he had indeed broken the law—with public funds.

Given this flagrant violation of state law, we’ve urged the DNR to revoke Mysore’s current permit to keep owls in his laboratory and to prohibit him from obtaining future permits.

Mysore has also apparently violated the terms of his grant, so we’ve also sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), demanding that it recoup grant money that it wasted on these taxpayer-funded experiments while Mysore didn’t have the legally required permit—since NIH grant recipients must comply with state laws—and deny future grant requests.

We’ve also demanded that Johns Hopkins end Mysore’s experiments, given his illegal activity in addition to the cruel and worthless nature of his experiments. (Please see details below.) Indeed, NIH itself has reported than his experiments on owls have a shockingly dismal 5% “approximate potential to translate” to human health, determined by the very low likelihood that his published papers will be cited in later clinical trials or guidelines.

If Mysore can’t adhere to state law, he shouldn’t be allowed to conduct complex brain surgeries on live animals.

Please add your voice to ours by taking action below.

Update: February 23, 2021
Shreesh Mysore may treat barn owls like unfeeling pieces of lab equipment (see details below), but they’re a protected species. So experimenters in Maryland must obtain permits to lock them in their laboratories. However, when PETA requested proof of Mysore’s permits through the state’s Freedom of Information Act, we discovered that the ones for 2015 through 2018 were missing. Apparently, neither Mysore nor anyone else in his lab had bothered to apply for or obtain them.

If experimenters can’t even bother to file simple paperwork with the state, they shouldn’t be allowed to conduct complex brain surgeries on live animals. Given this apparent flagrant violation of state law, we’ve sent a letter to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources urging it to revoke Mysore’s current permit to keep owls in his laboratory and to prohibit him from obtaining any permits in the future.

We’ve also sent a letter asking Johns Hopkins University to end the torment of owls on its campus.

Update: October 7, 2020
PETA has obtained damning evidence showing that Johns Hopkins University (JHU) experimenter Shreesh Mysore appears to have violated Maryland law by failing to obtain a legally required permit to possess protected birds for his invasive brain experiments. In addition, he recently admitted that the traumatic methods that he uses in his experiments may produce misleading results.

Translation: Mysore's experiments are apparently illegal and useless, and he knows it.

PETA has fired off complaints to the National Eye Institute—which funds this fiasco—and JHU, calling on both institutions to put an end to this junk science.

Update: March 17, 2020
PETA has fired off a letter to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) today and released damning reports and photographs obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that reveal the extent to which animals imprisoned in the university's laboratories suffer as a result of negligence, incompetence, and a stunning disregard for their lives.

JHU's violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act include locking highly social monkeys in solitary, barren cages with no enrichment as well as a number of horrific deaths endured by animals imprisoned at the school. In one instance, a worker closed a cage door on a marmoset monkey, killing the animal. In another, a monkey was found dead with her head stuck inside a ball used for "enrichment."

What's more, in light of its campus shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, JHU has ordered its experimenters to identify "critical animals to be maintained," presumably leading to the mass killing of countless others who aren't considered "critical"—which begs the question Why were these animals forced to endure cruel and painful tests in the first place?

Now more than ever, it's imperative that Shreesh Mysore's laboratory be shut down so that the owls imprisoned in it can be sent to a sanctuary.


Original post:

It's a torture chamber.

Documents obtained by PETA reveal that Johns Hopkins experimenter Shreesh Mysore cuts into the skulls of barn owls, inserts electrodes into their brains, forces them to look at screens for hours a day, and bombards them with noises and lights—and pretends that doing this will tell us something about attention-deficit disorder in humans.

one owl used in the experiment
This owl is one of many imprisoned in Shreesh Mysore's laboratory, where he cuts into their skulls and screws metal devices onto their heads in curiosity-driven experiments that have no relevance for human health.

Funded by Johns Hopkins University with more than $1 million, Mysore intends to use 50 to 60 barn owls in just the current set of painful experiments. He's also received more than $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health to torment these owls and other animals.

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Six owls are just for his students to practice surgery on and then kill.

What He Does to Owls
Mysore cuts into owls' skulls to expose their brains. Then, he screws and glues metal devices onto their heads. The owls endure two to three invasive surgeries before Mysore uses them in experiments. These birds—who are nocturnal hunters who would fly great distances in their natural habitat—are forced into restraint devices so cramped that they can't move their wings while Mysore bombards them with sounds and lights and measures their brain activity. For some experiments, he restrains fully conscious owls for up to 12 hours. During these experiments, he pokes electrodes around in the brains of the fully conscious birds, mutilating their brain tissue so severely that they become "unusable" to him—at which point he kills them.

Mysore admits that his experiments are painful for the owls, yet in his grant application for the experiments, he provides scant information on any pain medication that would be administered.

All the owls are killed at the end of the experiments.

barn owl

Mysore claims that his experiments could help humans, but owls have well-developed auditory and visual systems that are specialized in target selection (unlike humans). Bombarding these animals with artificial stimulation while their brain activity is measured in a distressing and completely unnatural situation does nothing to further understanding of human attention-deficit disorder.

Tell Johns Hopkins University to end this torment now!

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Mr.
Christopher S.
Celenza
Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

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