Salt Lake City — To encourage empathy for animals suffering in university laboratories, PETA is visiting the University of Utah (the U) today with Abduction, a unique virtual reality experience landing on college campuses across the country. In this eerie experience, visitors will enter a mysterious truck containing a mobile virtual reality studio. The students will seemingly find themselves stranded in the desert with a couple of fellow humans, abducted by aliens, taken aboard a spaceship, and subjected to a shocking experience, similar to what animals endure in laboratories. They’ll watch as their friends are subjected to painful tests—knowing that they’ll be next.

When:    Today, Tuesday, October 31, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Where:    J. Willard Marriott Library’s west plaza, University of Utah

Watch the trailer here. Broadcast-quality footage of the Abduction virtual reality experience is available upon request.

Experimenters at the U have mutilated rabbits’ eyes; shackled 6-month-old pigs to tables, cut them open from their chests to their pubic bones, removed organs, and induced shock from severe blood loss; implanted pacemakers in dogs, obstructed their arteries, and overstressed their hearts; cut out parts of monkeys’ skulls and spinal cords, glued PVC chambers to their skulls, paralyzed them, and inserted probes into their brains; and subjected lambs to brain trauma before decapitating them and removing their brains.

The U has a long history of animal welfare violations. Last year, PETA filed a complaint with the National Institutes of Health after federal reports revealed that laboratory staff’s incompetence and neglect had resulted in the deaths of multiple animals, including a dog who died of heart failure, a rabbit who suffocated to death, and a guinea pig who died of an overdose. In 2020, two marmoset monkeys died of overheating and distress when they were trapped in their nest box for 18 hours and three marmosets died after they were used in experimental surgeries and not given adequate veterinary care.

“Many students don’t know that on their own college campuses, frightened and confused animals are being psychologically tormented, mutilated, and killed in laboratories, with no way to escape or even understand what’s happening to them,” says Senior Director of peta2 Rachelle Owen. “PETA is on a mission to open young people’s eyes to this cruelty, help students understand what it feels like, and motivate them to join our call for a switch to superior, non-animal research.”

Studies show that 90% of all basic research—most of which involves animals—fails to lead to treatments for humans, which is why PETA is pushing universities to pivot to sophisticated, human-relevant research methods.

Abduction—which was filmed in VR180 with assistance from the immersive content creation studio Prosper XR—has stopped at nearly three dozen other college campuses over the past year, including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California–Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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