For Immediate Release:

22 April 2020

At Least One Laboratory ‘Culled’ Rats, Which Means Animals Deemed Non-Essential Were Killed

New Zealand – Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, at least one laboratory at the University of Otago had rats “culled”, which likely involved the killing of at least hundreds of animals. PETA and its US affiliate – the largest animal rights organisation in the world, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide – fired off a letter today to the university’s chancellor, Royden J Somerville, demanding to know why the institution conducts non-critical animal experiments. The group is also asking the public to e-mail the university via this action alert to urge it to be transparent regarding the number of animals it deems non-essential and euthanises in response to COVID-19 and to stop all current and new animal experiments.

“The University of Otago’s use of intelligent and sensitive animals in experiments as though they were nothing more than disposable laboratory equipment is shameful,” says PETA US Vice President Shalin Gala[SG2] . “The COVID-19 pandemic should be a moral and scientific reckoning for the university, which conducts deadly experiments on animals it keeps inside small steel cages. If it can’t prove that the experiments are essential – and its response to the pandemic indicates that they’re not – it must not be permitted to continue squandering taxpayer money on them once the pandemic is over.”

Numerous published studies have shown that animal experimentation wastes resources and lives, as more than 90% of highly promising results from basic scientific research – much of it involving animal experimentation – fail to lead to treatments for humans. (Please read under “Lack of benefit for humans” here.) And 95% of new medications that are found to be effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.

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

The letter to the university is available here.