Hamsters Kept in Total Darkness in UMass Lab for Over 200 Days: PETA Statement

For immediate release:
July 8, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Amherst, Mass. – Please see the following statement from PETA neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe regarding federal documents that reveal a serious violation of animal welfare at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) laboratories. According to documents obtained by PETA through a Freedom of Information Act request, UMass experimenters kept 10 golden hamsters in constant darkness for more than 200 days, in violation of the protocol that had been approved by the university’s animal experimentation watchdog.

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) Animal Laboratories are set to lose their license to operate. Federal documents obtained by PETA reveal that the school’s experimenters went rogue and kept the young hamsters in constant and complete darkness for 200 days, even though approval had only been given for half of this duration. Apparently, UMass staff lack both empathy and the will to uphold the law. PETA has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This is just the latest in a litany of UMass violations: mice have drowned, birds have starved to death, and zebrafish have died of overheating. In one incident, experimenters failed to relieve the pain needed by several hundred mice that had just undergone surgery. All of these problems add up to the university’s use of fragile marmosets in deadly menopause experiments, even though these tiny monkeys don’t naturally experience menopause. UMass has been cited by the USDA for its poor treatment of marmosets in these experiments. In one incident, a marmoset was badly burned when experimenters put hand warmers on his body as he recovered from surgery, leading to his death three days later. Another violation occurred when a marmoset escaped from a device holding it and was injured when recaptured by staff, causing them to amputate its tail.

UMass needs to shut down its animal labs, starting with its marmoset lab, and redirect its resources to modern, non-animal research methods that will actually help humans. We urge officials there to adopt PETA’s search modernization agreement.

For more information about PETA’s news gathering and investigative reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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