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

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Update (July 11, 2022): If you’re an experimenter who cuts into and torments owls for a living, did so illegally for years, and was then barred by your state from killing those animals, your days of mangling owls’ brains should be over.

But not so in Maryland, where officials have just shamefully green-lit Johns Hopkins University’s deadly business as usual regarding the mutilation of owls on its campus.

PETA neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe issued the following statement:

 

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is skirting Maryland law, with the complicity of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), to continue invasive and deadly brain experiments on owls.

There’s no dispute that JHU broke the law by conducting these tests for four years without having mandatory state permits—and taxpayers have been footing the bill to the tune of $1.9 million. After PETA exposed this illegal activity, MD DNR issued a new permit, which JHU also violated by killing owls. The department then issued another permit that specifically barred the killing of these animals, which should have ended the experiments. However, it appears that MD DNR has now colluded with or bowed to pressure from JHU to circumvent the law by issuing the school a separate new permit that allows for business as usual. It’s not clear that this permit is legal, and PETA will be reviewing the situation.

JHU is also falsely claiming that experiments, which have resulted in no benefits to a single human, are important to the understanding of human autism, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder—almost throwing in the common cold—even though psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and people with common sense are saying that they absolutely are not. The experiments—which involve cutting into barn owls’ skulls, implanting electrodes in their brains, forcing the birds into plastic tubes or jackets so cramped that they can’t move their wings, clamping their eyes open, and bombarding them with sounds and lights for up to 12 hours—will continue for the present, despite their worthlessness. The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) own analysis tool (“Translation” tab) indicates that JHU’s owl experiments have a shockingly dismal 5% “approximate potential to translate” to human health, and PETA caught experimenter Shreesh Mysore admitting that attaching bolts to animals’ skulls in order to hold their heads in an unnaturally fixed position might cause him to “misinterpret what’s happening or misunderstand” the results.

NIH must immediately cut funding for JHU’s experiments on owls or risk being complicit in the blatant corruption of science and the law.

If you haven’t done so already, please add your voice to ours by taking action below.

Update (June 16, 2022): After PETA informed Maryland state Senator Ben Kramer of the cruel, wasteful, and illegal activities conducted by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) owl experimenter Shreesh Mysore, the lawmaker sent powerful letters to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and JHU to demand an end to the torture tests on these sensitive birds.

Mysore—who from 2015 to 2018 failed to obtain mandatory permits to possess barn owls legally for use in his experiments and who admitted in his federal funding application his plan to kill the owls, even though doing so would void his legally required “Scientific Collecting” permits—has received more than $1.9 million in taxpayer money from NIH to mutilate owls’ brains.

Kramer asserts in his letters that Mysore is not exempt from Maryland law and should refund the taxpayer money he spent on illegal activities, be barred from receiving future federal funding for these experiments on owls, and have his current MD DNR permit revoked if he’s continuing to kill owls in his tests after that agency explicitly barred him from doing so on May 12, 2022. (See details below.)


Update (June 9, 2022): Victory! PETA has just obtained new documents from the state of Maryland that should end the torment of barn owls at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Earlier this month, PETA complained to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) that the permit that the agency had issued to JHU experimenter Shreesh Mysore allowed him to kill owls after using them in invasive brain tests (see details below), pointing out that state law strictly forbids this practice.

The new documents confirm that MD DNR has revoked that permit because it was “inconsistent” with state law—in other words, ILLEGAL—and has issued him a new one stipulating that he can’t kill birds. Since killing them and examining their mutilated brains is how Mysore has been making a living, this should end his horrific experiments on owls.

We’ve written to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds Mysore’s useless work, pointing out that he can no longer fulfill the terms outlined in his NIH grant application, in which he calls for killing the owls. So NIH, which has confirmed it’s currently investigating our complaint, needs to yank its support for these experiments, which have so far wasted more than $1.9 million in taxpayer funds. We’ve also written to JHU’s president with the same message.

If you haven’t done so already, please add your voice to ours by taking action below.

Update (December 8, 2021): PETA has urged State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby to investigate experimenter Shreesh Mysore and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) officials for possible criminal charges related to Mysore’s imprisonment and torture of owls, without a valid Maryland permit allowing him to use these animals in his laboratory.

Mysore’s mutilation and killing of owls (details below) can be exempt from Maryland’s cruelty-to-animals laws only if his invasive experiments are approved by JHU’s Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC). But the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)—on the basis of evidence supplied by PETA—confirmed that from 2015 through 2018, he failed to obtain mandatory permits needed before torturing owls in his laboratory, even though the DNR reminded him to do so.

So the ACUC should not have approved Mysore’s experiments on owls during that time.

We’re urging Mosby to throw the book at both this rogue experimenter and the ACUC for terrorizing birds—JHU should not be above the law and exempt from punishment for conduct that would be criminal outside a laboratory, after not even bothering to obtain legally required permits.

We’ve also sent letters to government bodies demanding accountability.

Mysore’s lack of permits apparently violated the terms of his grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), so we demanded that the agency recoup the money that it had wasted on these taxpayer-funded experiments—since NIH grant recipients must comply with state laws—and deny any future grant requests that he might make.

Instead of holding Mysore accountable, NIH is abdicating its duty to enforce its own regulations. It pathetically tried to place the blame on the Maryland DNR, claiming that the state hadn’t sent him permit renewal reminders—a claim that Maryland DNR records show is patently false. So we’ve reiterated our demand that NIH stop letting animal experimenters break the law without consequences.

Given this flagrant violation of state law, we’ve also reiterated our demand that the Maryland DNR revoke Mysore’s current permit to keep owls in his laboratory and prohibit him from obtaining any such permits in the future.

In addition, we’ve demanded that JHU end Mysore’s experiments on owls, given his illegal activity as well as the cruel and worthless nature of his experiments. Indeed, NIH itself has reported that 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 consistently adhere to state law, he shouldn’t be allowed to conduct complex brain surgeries on live animals.

Update (November 4, 2021): Johns Hopkins University (JHU) experimenter Shreesh Mysore conducted invasive brain experiments on owls illegally for four years, so PETA has sent letters to government bodies demanding accountability.

Earlier this year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) confirmed—based on evidence that PETA had supplied—that from 2015 through 2018, Mysore broke the law by failing to obtain mandatory permits needed to imprison and torture owls in his laboratory.

This apparently violated the terms of Mysore’s grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), so we demanded that the agency recoup the money that it had wasted on these taxpayer-funded experiments—since NIH grant recipients must comply with state laws—and deny any future grant requests that Mysore might make.

Instead of doing the right thing, the federal agency is abdicating its duty to enforce its own regulations. It pathetically tried to place the blame on the MD DNR, claiming that the state hadn’t sent Mysore permit renewal reminders—a claim that’s patently false based on MD DNR records. So we’ve reiterated our demand that NIH stop letting animal experimenters break the law without consequences.

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

We’ve also demanded that JHU end Mysore’s experiments on owls, given his illegal activity in addition to the cruel and worthless nature of his experiments. (See details below.) Indeed, NIH itself has reported that 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.

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!

Putting your subject line and letter into your own words will help draw attention to your e-mail.

Dr.
Ronald J.
Daniels, L.L.M., J.D.
Johns Hopkins

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