Us Defense Department To Replace Cruel Use Of Animals In Many Medical Training Exercises

For Immediate Release:

13 November 2014


Ben Williamson +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 229; [email protected]

PETA Intensifies Calls for UK Government to Stop Shooting, Stabbing and Blowing Up Animals in MoD Training Drills

London – In the wake of long campaigns by PETA and its international affiliates to expose and end the horrors experienced by live animals who are shot, cut into and blown up in military training exercises, the US Department of Defense (DOD) has just announced a landmark decision: starting next year, the use of animals will be replaced with superior human simulators in several key medical training areas across the entire US military.

The move was announced in a memorandum from Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr Jonathan Woodson, who states that “suitable simulation alternatives can replace the use of live animals” in these exercises and ordered the change to go into effect by 1 January. The six US training programmes that will end animal use include advanced trauma life support, neonatal and paediatric resuscitation, obstetrics and gynaecology, nursing anaesthesia, continuing medical staff skills training and field surgical and critical-care training. 

PETA is calling on the UK Defence Secretary, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, to follow suit, after it was revealed that UK military personnel are still participating in biennial surgical training exercises in Denmark in which live pigs are shot and operated on while still alive. This crude course, which can be seen in this set of photos, is informally known in military circles as “Danish bacon”.

 “This tremendous step to modernise military medicine will spare countless animals pain and suffering and ultimately improve medical care for America’s fighting forces”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “We continue to urge the UK Ministry of Defence to join the nearly 80 per cent of our NATO allies that have replaced the use of animals in medical training with superior simulation technology.” 

EU Directive 2010/63/EU requires that non-animal methods be used whenever available. Earlier this year, the Medical Director at Joint Medical Command, Brigadier Tim Hodgetts CBE, revealed that he receives fortnightly letters from the House of Commons asking why the UK has not already switched to modern simulators. The admission followed the release of a number of military studies showing that modern simulators teach life-saving battlefield medical skills as well as or better than cutting up and killing pigs and other animals.

The US DOD’s move follows complaints filed by PETA US in cooperation with military and civilian medical experts as well as protests, whistleblower complaints, pleas from celebrity veterans such as Bob Barker and Oliver Stone, a shocking 2012 PETA US video exposé and hundreds of thousands of e-mails and calls from PETA US supporters. In 2013 and 2014, PETA US prompted the US Army and US Coast Guard to institute new policies restricting the use of animals in medical training and requiring greater use of simulation and other non-animal methods. PETA US also recently persuaded the US Army to stop poisoning monkeys in chemical-attack training exercises and persuaded Naval Medical Center San DiegoNaval Medical Center Portsmouth and Madigan Army Medical Center to stop forcing hard tubes down live cats’ and ferrets’ throats in paediatric intubation exercises.

A copy of the DOD memo is available upon request. For more information on the use of animals in cruel military training exercises, please visit