Mice cooked to death. Primates holed up in a room with 24-hour-a-day lights. An owl, denied veterinary care, that dies in a cage. These are among the 31 incidents uncovered through a freedom-of-information request about animal-welfare failures in government labs in 2018 and 2019—labs where official inspections are never conducted and scientists are expected to regulate themselves, AFP reports. "The laws and regulations exist to minimize animal suffering, pain, stress, and when even those minimal standards are not being addressed or not being followed, then you have significant suffering," says animal-welfare researcher Eric Kleiman. "...If you can't do this kind of thing right you have no business doing anything with animals, it's as simple as that." He calls the finds "shocking."
The misconduct occurred at various National Institutes of Health labs that research areas like child health, mental health, and diabetes, mostly in Maryland. Animal testing has strong support from the scientific community and has scored successes— like the discovery of insulin via dog experiments, and an Ebola treatment last year through experiments on genetically-modified mice—but PETA, which made the FIA request and opposes all animal experiments, says animal studies "often fail" to result in human treatments and cures. PETA is also calling for an audit of all animal experiments at NIH labs. The NIH says it has investigated all "noncompliance" incidents, but AFP notes that "few incidents led to serious repercussions." (Read more animal rights stories.)