USDA files complaints against University of Iowa for death of baby ferrets

Ferret found in Hilo
Ferret found in Hilo
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 3:33 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The United States Department of Agriculture has filed two complaints against the University of Iowa for the deaths of multiple ferrets.

  • On 2/18/21 a ferret kit was found to have got its leg caught in an area of the enclosure in the facility. Upon discovery, it received prompt veterinary attention and was humanely euthanized. It was found to have had a talus fracture. The facility found the enclosure that it got its leg caught in had a bowed enclosure floor with enough space for a kit leg to get caught in. To prevent further occurrences the facility reports it has removed all affected floor components from inventory. Enclosures with bowed floors can cause injury as occurred in this incident. Ensure that enclosures are maintained in good repair to protect animals from injury and to contain them.
  • On 8/2/2021 the facility found a jill had given birth to two kits in the incorrect housing. An administrative error was found to be the cause of standard weaned ferret housing being used rather than a singly-housed solid bottom housing for the pregnant ferret. Two ferret kits were found dead prior to her being moved to another enclosure and two more were born and found dead in the correct enclosure, and one more lived, although the cause of the deaths is unknown. The standard housing was inappropriate for a pregnant ferret. The facility has taken steps to ensure that pregnant ferrets are correctly housed to prevent any further incidents.

These stories are similar to the ones that occurred back in 2018.

PETA Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Cases, Dr. Alka Chanda, Ph.D., made this statement in regards to the University of Iowa being cited for critical violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act:

“The University of Iowa needs to get out of the animal-experimentation business. Just-released government documents obtained by PETA reveal that the school was cited for critical violations of federal animal welfare laws for obscene neglect resulting in the death of baby ferrets. In one incident, a ferret kit’s leg became caught in a cage. The animal sustained a bone fracture and was euthanized. In another incident, a pregnant ferret was left in a cage inappropriate for pregnant females. Two of her kits were found dead in this enclosure. Two more kits from this female were later found dead, even after she had been moved to an appropriate enclosure—although the cause of death was not determined. Ferrets are known to be intelligent, sensitive, and empathetic, but the same cannot be said of the workers in the University of Iowa’s laboratory.”

We reached out to the University of Iowa, who had this to say:

“The University of Iowa takes the care and health of its animals seriously. It’s aware of these issues and has taken steps to prevent their recurrence in the future.”

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