Bristol University shocking exposé on animal experiments

Bristol University shocking exposé on animal experiments

September 9, 2016

At noon on Saturday 1 October 2016, outside Wills Building on Queens Road, scores of Animal Justice Project [1] volunteers from Bristol and surrounding areas will hold a silent vigil using props. Using the hashtag #CatGotYourTongue, Animal Justice Project’s Campus without Cruelty campaign reveals cats and other animals being used by Bristol University researchers, as well as their silence on this issue.

Bristol University has, since at least 2013, failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests on the number and types of animals housed in their laboratories. In 2014, the university stated publicly that it would ‘implement a centralised system so that data such as that requested is more readily available in 2015’ [2]. Yet in May 2016, the university again refused to release the information [3], stating “The University does not keep a central record of its Animals Act licences and the information contained within them”. Yet Animal Justice Project holds that a central recording keeping system is vital for transparency and accountability. Ironically, Bristol has signed the ‘Concordat on Openness on Animal Research’ [4].

To find out what is happening to animals inside Bristol’s laboratories, Animal Justice Project has carried out its own research. What we found is a shocking insight into an industry that is shroud in secrecy. It is also a telling reminder as to why.

In one experiment [5] carried out in March this year and funded by the Medical Research Council, pigs were studies to investigate transplant rejection. In this experiment, 21 pigs had their corneas – the transparent part of the eye which forms a layer covering the pupil and iris – removed. Another 21 pigs were subjected to blood samples and had the harvested corneas transplanted onto them orthotopically. The pigs were invariably incompatible with the new corneas, and this was part of the experimental design. In effect, researchers induced rejection of the new corneas, and this was monitored post-surgery. Pigs are a frequent species of choice for testing new surgical procedures and for transplantation studies, yet the conclusion of this study was a ‘suggestion to carry out a comparable human study’.

Further examples of other animal experiments include asphyxiating de-scalped rats [6]. In this gruesome experiment to investigate how blood flow to the brain contributes to brain injury, over 200 rats were used. The animals were placed sedated into a chamber, and then deprived of oxygen, resuscitated and then killed. Some rats were descalped, deprived of oxygen for half an hour (during which time 11 died) and left to recover, probably in agony for up to 45 minutes before being killed. In another experiment funded by the Wellcome Trust [7], mice were deliberately wounded with 4mm punch wounds.

Bristol University has been using cats in experiments since at least 2009 [2]. Last year, researchers were injecting methodone into cats [8]. Catheters were inserted into the animals legs and jugulars and the drug was injected into their muscles and blood. They were then tested for sensitivity to both heat and mechanical pain. This is not the first time Bristol University has come under fire from campaigners before. In 2014, a national animal welfare organisation submitted to the Home Office a report outlining several cases of what they viewed as cruelty towards specially-bred cats during research trials at Bristol University [2].

Claire Palmer, Animal Justice Project Spokesperson states: “Bristol University – a university that claims to be open about their animal research – has once again denied the public answers with regards to animal experimentation. This is a travesty, considering much of those experiments will have been funded using public money. Their silences begs the question .. what is Bristol University hiding?”

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