EVMS Kills Four Mother Baboons After PETA Exposes Federal Animal Welfare Violations, Offers Sanctuary


For Immediate Release:
April 4, 2024

Contact:
Brandi Pharris 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va, – Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) experimenter Gerald Pepe killed four mother baboons—Jemma, Cookie, Toya, and Tara—who for years underwent multiple surgeries in which fetuses were cut out of them, some in violation of federal law, records just obtained by PETA reveal. EVMS began quietly killing the primates when PETA shared information with Virginia legislators about the violations—killing two of them after being contacted by the group to offer a sanctuary placement it had secured. EVMS is the only university in the Commonwealth that still uses nonhuman primates for experiments.

PETA has filed an open records request for the necropsy reports on the baboons and is calling for Pepe to be dismissed and his laboratory to be shut down permanently.

“Eastern Virginia Medical School’s killing of these bright, social baboons—Jemma, Cookie, Toya, and Tara—appears to be a cover-up, as the condition of their bodies no doubt reflected the systemic neglect and torment they endured in Gerald Pepe’s experiments,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Pepe should be fired for his chronic violations of the law and for denying these elderly baboons a decent home for their remaining years.”

For more than 40 years, Pepe has used baboons in ill-designed pregnancy experiments, most recently injecting them with hormones and cutting out and killing their babies at various stages of development. When the baboons were allowed to carry their pregnancies to term, their babies were taken from them as infants. EVMS granted Pepe permission to conduct up to six cesarean sections on each of the baboons—in violation of federal animal welfare regulations—until the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) took the rare step of revoking permission for experimenters at the university to continue performing multiple major surgeries on the animals.

A fifth baboon used in the experiments, Alissa, died following a cesarean section that was performed despite major fluctuations in her weight that were never addressed. These taxpayer-funded studies have produced no benefits, treatments, or cures for humans.

A baboon named Nikki, used in pregnancy experiments and confined to a cage at EVMS, rocks back and forth in psychological distress. Image obtained from this video by PETA through the Virginia Public Records Act

All five baboons endured severe psychological trauma from being repeatedly subjected to painful and invasive procedures as well as from social isolation and confinement to barren cages with little enrichment. They self-mutilated, pulled out their hair, chewed the bars of their cages, and sustained injuries, including missing fingers resulting from fights with cagemates. EVMS has a long history of federal animal welfare violations—including at least eight in recent years, four of which were “critical” (i.e., having a serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of an animal).

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.





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