Mass Killings of ‘Extraneous’ Animals in Labs Prompt Appeal to HHS Inspector General

PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate more than 60 universities funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for their apparent failure to abide by federal mandates to reduce and replace the use of animals in experiments. In its letter, PETA points to the schools’ mass killings of animals categorized as noncritical to research during the ramp-down of laboratory experiments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to COVID-19, these universities—which in total received more than $12 billion in taxpayer-funded grants from NIH last year, nearly half of which is estimated to fund animal tests—directed their experimenters to suspend or end NIH-funded experiments on animals the universities categorized as “extraneous,” “disposable,” “non-essential,” or “unnecessary,” resulting in the deaths of thousands of animals.

PETA is urging the OIG to ensure that NIH-funded universities comply with federal mandates to reduce and/or replace the use of animals in laboratory testing, including by prohibiting experiments or the use of animals classified by universities as “extraneous.”

“PETA is questioning why NIH is wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to buy, breed, trap, or experiment on animals who are now so easily disposed of,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “The government would have done more to advance human health by investing in underserved Black and brown communities instead of paying universities to torture animals whom labs have deemed ‘extraneous’ and killed.”

Universities that ended NIH-funded experiments considered non-essential (or similar) and/or killed animals deemed non-essential (or similar) include Boston University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton University.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

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