Animal Justice Project carries out ongoing probe into animal experiments at UK universities
Meeting minutes from all responding universities continue to reveal some bizarre and nasty experiments at UK universities. One study involved researchers crushing the optic nerves of mice, severing animals’ spinal cords, and inserting electrodes into their bodies to monitor the effect of procedures. In another planned piece of research, 750 piglets would be taken from their mothers before even being allowed to suckle and then subjected to brain cooling experiments before being killed. Researchers believed it would be “challenging” to keep the piglets alive for even 10 days following the treatment.
Some researchers in this university have been reported to have shown a “lack of understanding” when logging animal welfare issues, as they did not report how long such welfare issues lasted for. An “unexplained culling of litters” was also reported which suggests neglect and/or stress.
Referring to research on embryo development in animals, one Bath researcher stated: “Clearly, our experiments would be completely unethical in humans.”
A ‘dairy’ cow under experimentation suffered severe abduction, which is painful and can prevent a cow from even standing up. She was consequently killed. Two cows at the university who had just given birth also suffered a displaced stomach department apparently due to their diet.
At the time of our enquiry, there was no mechanism in place for personnel to log animal welfare concerns. It was noted that logging a concern or complaint – even in a supposedly anonymous way – could result in the nulling of a PhD, which would reduce the chance that researchers would report a problem.
At Bristol, just some of the procedures performed or planned for the future include cutting the spinal cords of mice, putting implants into the skulls of other animals and experimenting with stunners which would incapacitate birds before slaughter.
There has been a report of “inappropriate wording in an email from an academic to a technician” – ‘Happy Culling’.
Similar to Bristol University, there was no way for personnel to report animal welfare concerns anonymously.
King’s College London
‘Swim tests’ were noted as causing “considerable distress levels.” And in some studies, mice were forced to swim for 90 minutes a day, up to twice a day for eight weeks in order to induce cardiac hypertrophy (a condition narrowing the chamber of the heart) in the animals.
Issues at Sheffield were aplenty, and included:
- Mice had seizures when they were being cleaned out
- An investigation resulted in the retraining of a researcher due to poor conduct when killing a mouse
University of Birmingham
Procedures include firing a projectile into the eyes of rodents; causing sepsis in other animals and inserting a screw into rats’ heads to monitor brain activity.
The death toll for animals who were killed not directly as part of a study was also high. In one case, an enclosure had to be closed, resulting in 450 animals being killed. In another, researchers wanted to use pregnant animals as part of a study, yet the young were not needed, so were killed within one week of being born.
… and finally some good news!
Some universities are working to promote and find methods of research that do not involve using animals. These innovative and modern techniques include forming 3D micro-skeletons to measure bone development; advanced computer models to show the impact of drugs and 3D cell cultures for use in cancer research.
When developed, these methods will outstrip animal research in reliability and validity. However, this research remains underfunded. » For more information, visit the Cruelty Free International website