For Immediate Release:
June 22, 2023
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Portland – In a resounding victory for transparency and accountability, a court has ordered Oregon Health & Science University to pay PETA more than $400,000, after the university went to extreme and illegal lengths to keep hidden videos of absurd experiments on drunken voles.
The order of a Multnomah County circuit court to pay PETA $434,133 follows the court’s decision to sanction OHSU’s attempts to destroy and withhold video footage of cruel and bizarre experiments in which small prairie voles were given the equivalent of 15 bottles of wine a day in order to then draw conclusions about the impact of human alcohol consumption on infidelity.
The university misled PETA for years, claiming first that it didn’t have photos and videos from the experiments that PETA had requested and eventually claiming that the public records had been destroyed.
PETA only discovered shortly before trial, through its own investigation, that the videos had never been deleted but instead remained where they had always been—on the desktop of an OHSU lab computer. The court found OHSU’s conduct to be an “undue” and “unreasonable” delay and in violation of Oregon public records law. As a sanction, OHSU was ordered to pay costs and fees incurred by PETA.
“This victory sends a strong message to OHSU and similar entities that accountability is paramount,” says Dr. Alka Chandna, PETA’s vice president of laboratory investigation cases. “OHSU will now have to pay the price for trying to hide its violent torture of drunken voles.”
In one test, a male vole was placed in a cage with his “partner” tethered at one end and another female tethered at the opposite end. Experimenters recorded how much time the male spent “huddling” with each female. In another test, a male vole “intruder” was dropped into a cage occupied by a “resident” male. The experimenters then observed the voles’ fighting. Following the tests, all the voles were killed and their brains, along with the fetuses of pregnant females, were dissected.
The court’s ruling last year also faulted OHSU for illegal surveillance activities carried out by OHSU police officers, who unlawfully monitored PETA’s protected free-speech activities.