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The University of Washington is extensively involved in animal testing. Animal testing at UW involves hundreds of animals, millions of research dollars, and is performed by dozens of researchers spread across UW’s Seattle campus. UW performs research on a variety of animal species, including primates, pigs, dogs, and rabbits. There is a wide variety of experiments performed on animals, which often involve very painful surgeries, after which the animals are often euthanized. To make matters worse, UW’s animal labs have a consistent record of incidents due to breaches of protocol and mistakes made by staff, which have resulted in the unnecessary injury and death of many animals, as well as fines from the USDA. Additionally, animal research at UW is plagued by an ineffective oversight committee (the IACUC) which rubber stamps virtually every proposed experiment without proper consideration.

What kind of facilities does UW have for animal testing?

UW has many facilities spread across UW Seattle’s campus. These facilities include the recently-constructed Animal Research and Care Facility (ARCF), which cost over $100 million. Animal testing at UW involves hundreds of researchers and millions of dollars in funding. UW also operates the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC), which is one of seven federally-funded National Primate Research Centers in the United States.  In addition to its Seattle facilities, the WaNPRC also operates a breeding colony in Arizona to raise pig-tailed macaques to be used for medical experiments.

What kind of animals does UW experiment on?
Macaques are the most common type of primate tested on at UW.

UW experiments on a wide variety of animals including dogs, rabbits, primates, pigs, sheep, gerbils, bobcats, ferrets, and coyotes. According to the USDA’s Annual Report, in 2021 UW performed experiments on:

  • 502 non-human primates (mostly macaques)
  • 257 rabbits
  • 171 pigs
  • 26 hamsters
  • 20 gerbils
  • 14 dogs
  • 14 ferrets
  • and other animals

All of these animals are kept in cages and do not have access to the outdoors.

What kind of experiments does the University of Washington perform on animals?

The University of Washington is involved in a variety of experiments on animals. Examples include:

Brain experiments: Experiments on the brain are a common type of animal research. These experiments often involve surgically cutting into the skulls of animals to access the brain (“craniotomies”), surgically implanting electrodes into the animals’ brains, and other types of surgeries. Specific studies include:

  • Oxygen deprivation of baby macaques: One study involved depriving baby macaques of oxygen while they were still fetuses by clamping their umbilical cords, delivering the baby macaques early which required them to be resuscitated, surgically implanting electrodes into their scalps, further depriving them of oxygen for the first three days of their lives, and then euthanizing the macaques when they were eight days old (McAdams et al., 2017).
  • Implantation of electrodes in macaques’ brains: One study involved surgically implanting electrodes into macaques’ brains, and then monitoring their brains while the macaques were forced to perform a visual tracking task (Shushruth et al., 2018).
  • Electrical stimulation of macaques’ brains: One study involved surgically opening the skulls of macaques, inserting electrodes into their skulls, and applying beta stimulation to the outer layer of the macaques’ brains (Zanos et al., 2018).
  • Giving macaques strokes: One study involved giving macaques strokes by intravenously injecting them with a special light-sensitive chemical, and then opening their skulls and activating the chemical with light which caused brain tissue to be destroyed, thereby giving the macaques strokes (Kahteeb et al., 2019).

Pregnancy experiments: Researchers often use primates and other animals in studies to study pregnancy. These studies are often surgically invasive to both the mother and fetus. Specific studies include:

  • Artificially enlarging the uteri of pregnant macaques: One study involved studying uterine overdistension, which is a condition during pregnancy when the uterus is larger than normal due to amniotic fluid or a large baby. Researchers induced uterine overdistension in six pregnant macaques by implanting balloons inside the macaques’ uteri, which caused three of the six macaques to have preterm labor. The baby macaques were then delivered by cesarean section and euthanized (Waldorf et al., 2015).
Diagram of a jacket-tether system used at UW to simulate uterine overdistension.

Eye and vision experiments: Some experiments involve studying the eyes of animals, which often involve surgery. Specific studies include:

  • Giving macaques lazy eye (amblyopia): One study involved giving macaques lazy eye by surgically cutting the retinal muscles of some macaques, and forcing other macaques to wear contact lenses which induced lazy eye (Pham et al., 2018).
  • Surgically cutting out and modifying monkeys’ eyes: One study involved researching how macaques perceived color, and involved removing the eyes of anesthetized monkeys and then cutting out several parts of the eyes in order to study them (Wool et al., 2018).
What kind of animal abuse incidents have occurred at the University of Washington?
A macaque being held in a cage at the University of Washington.

Incidents at UW regularly occur which result in severe injury or death to the animals. Examples include:

  • In January 2017, an 8-year-old female pigtail macaque died of dehydration as the result of the water line in its cage being disconnected for two to three days. This incident was partially the result of the WaNPRC not having cleaned or sanitized the macaque’s cage for 17 days prior to the incident. If the cage had been cleaned every two weeks, as is required, it is believed that the disconnected water line would have been discovered, and the death would not have happened.
  • In April 2018, a pigtail macaque accidentally strangled itself using a chain adjacent to its cage. The USDA reported that the chain was not installed properly. The macaque’s social partner witnessed the death.
  • In 2019, a primate died during surgery due to the fact that it had not been fasted prior to surgery. As a result, the animal vomited and choked to death.
What is the IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee)?

According to the Animal Welfare Act , all research done on “covered species” (meaning animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act) is supposed to be overseen and monitored by a Committee known as the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC for short).  Among other things, the IACUC is responsible for addressing animal welfare concerns and for reviewing and approving “animal use” protocols (research studies that use non-human animals).

Instead, the IACUC at the University of Washington has acted like a rubber stamp, never seeing a research study that used non-human animals that they didn’t approve of, no matter how heinous the experiment. For years, animal experiments at UW have consistently neglected animals and violated protocol, which has led to citations by USDA inspectors. Despite these failures, the IACUC at UW has done next to nothing about it.

Check out these reports where they list non-compliance events and incidents:


Events – Speak up for animals in labs!

The pressure to end non-human animal experiments, especially primate experimentation, continues to mount. The public is being exposed to media proving what happens in the laboratories and continue to question the value of the science behind primate suffering. Help us end primate experimentation starting right here in Seattle, and help UW move into a future where humans explore alternatives to exploiting other species to thrive.

NARN’s Animals In Labs Committee meets virtually on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.




Speak up at the monthly IACUC on the 3rd Thursday of the month! Every month, you have the opportunity to speak up for the animals in labs at the University of Washington! The University of Washington’s IACUC meets monthly to discuss various research protocols (study designs).



UW Experiments on Animals In the News