UPDATE: The University of Memphis released a statement on this issue Thursday:
“We regret the unfortunate circumstances that led to the death and euthanasia of a number of research mole rats and voles. Protocols have been reviewed to ensure such instances are not repeated, and changes have been made to improve accountability and required conditions in these areas. The university remains in full compliance with federal and other research regulations pertaining to such cases.”
MEMPHIS, Tenn.– A government inspection showed dozens of research animals were found dead or not properly cared for at the University of Memphis, according to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The report stated twelve Voles died from excessive heat on April 1 when the HVAC system malfunctioned and no alarm was in place to alert staff.
In addition, the USDA said since July 19, fifteen animals, including animals found dead and those euthanized for medical reasons, have died in the main room where 250 Damaraland mole rats are kept.
The report also stated the deaths of at least five mole rats were most likely caused by increased fighting between the animals due to environmental stress.
An investigation found that the cause of stress was likely soft noise coming from a dehumidifier in the room and continuous light in the room, which might have bothered the animals.
There were also animals found with various injuries.
The university was also cited for not providing animals with proper veterinary care.
PETA, an animal welfare group, said it has filed a complaint with the National Institutes of Health and is calling on the federal agency to stop providing funding to the university.
Read the USDA’s full report here.