uobBristol University has, since at least 2013, failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests requesting basic information about the animal experiments taking place there. They have refused to release the number of animals incarcerated in their laboratories, and the types of animals. Their reasoning is that they have no central system of record keeping. Yet this is vital for transparency and accountability. 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’. In 2016, it is still not in place, and Bristol University continues denying the public answers with regards to animal experimentation.

The lack of a central system of record keeping is bizarre. The university MUST know how many animals it houses and why!

Animal Justice Project’s own research however reveals that a large number of different animals have been or are being used at Bristol’s laboratories, including rabbits, cats, mice, rats, birds, amphibians and pigs.

Curiosity killed the cat…

Like Cardiff University, Bristol has received negative attention due to the cat experiments being carried out there. In 2014, The Epigram published an article on the front page describing cats being subjected to brain probes, deliberate HIV infection and heat-induced pain. They reported on cat experiments being carried out in 2009, and 2012. Animal Justice Project reveals that researchers at the university were still carrying out cat experiments right up to 2015 there. Below we describe yet another experiment to test heat sensitivity and pain. Again, cats had hot devices pressed against their skin.

In The Epigram article, one researcher stated: “I’m not going to lie, it does cause the individual cats discomfort. By researching pain, causing pain is inevitable” and “obviously our patients cant give consent”. These animals are being treated as experimental tools. Researchers make the animals deliberately worse off, they are not patients!

Cats are still used at Bristol University, though the facility refuses to provide outsiders any information about the numbers of cats there, or types of experiments. Researchers there have claimed that the cats are kept in ‘very comfortable, communal, maximum security housing’, presumably to prevent outsiders from getting in.

Transplant Rejection in Pigs (2016)

Since pigs are exploited for their organs, they are also the victims transplant experiments. In 2015, 21 pigs under anaesthetic had their corneas, the transparent part of the eye which forms a layer that covers the pupil and iris, removed. Another 21 pigs were then anaesthetised, blood samples taken, and the harvested corneas transplanted. By experimental design, the pigs were always, to varying degrees, incompatible with the new corneas. They were inducing rejection of the new corneas, which was monitored for post-surgery. Of the 21 pigs subjected to the transplant, 10 experienced rejection of the corneas. Finally, it is suggested to extend this research and proceed to studying humans.

Asphyxiated Rats (2016) and Pigs (2014)

Rats were used to investigate how blood flow to the brain contributes to brain injury. A total of 218 rats were used, separated into four groups of: 43, 44, 37, and 94 members. The main experiment itself involved placing sedated rats into a chamber, and then depriving them of oxygen for an extended period of time before resuscitating them, and later killing them to study their brains.

  •   The first group of rats had their scalps removed beforehand, and during the oxygen deprivation lasting 30 minutes, which 11 rats did not survive, lasers were shined upon their exposed flesh. After 30 to 45 minutes of recovery, all rats were killed
  •   In the second group, no scalp removal was performed and the oxygen deprivation lasted 27 minutes, killing 19 of the rats. After one week all were killed.
  •  In the third group, the deprivation lasted 75 minutes, killing four rats, and the holding chamber was kept at a temperature of 36°C to “produce moderate injury”. After one week all were killed.
  •  The final group was deprived of oxygen for 100 minutes, killing eight rats, and kept at a temperature of 36°C to “produce moderate injury” also. After one week all were killed.

A similar experiment was performed on pigs. Thirty two new-born pigs were anaesthetised and deprived of oxygen for 45 minutes, before being resuscitated. After 72 hours, all were killed.

Ultrasound Stimulated Wounds in Mice (2015)

In this experiment, mice were separated into two groups. The first group was genetically modified to develop diabetes, whereas the other were healthy but geriatric. All the mice, from both groups, were anaesthetised and four 4mm skin wounds were inflicted on their backs. For twenty minutes each day, animals were subjected to ultrasound stimulation on their wounds, and the effects on healing observed.

Methadone in Cats (2015)

Methadone is a drug that is used for pain relief and a sedative, as well as for treatment of heroin addiction for example. It can have serious side effects, including: insomnia, nausea and vomiting, memory loss, seizures, stomach pain, and swelling of limbs, to name but a few. In one experiment within the university this drug was administered to 12 cats. First the cats were anaesthetised and the catheters placed into their bodies. In six of the cats, catheters were inserted into the jugular vein, and two other cats had catheters inserted into their legs. The methadone was injected into their muscles, and blood was taken using the catheters up to 24 hours later (as well as up to an hour before the drug was given). The cats were then tested for their sensitivity to both heat and mechanical pain.

  • Heat sensitivity: A heating device was placed against the shaved chest of the cats, and slowly increased until some response from the cat. The maximum temperature was 55C.
  • Mechanical sensitivity: Three pins of 2.5mm diameter are slowly advanced the skin of the shaved forelimb with the pressure slowly increased up to a maximum of 30N, until the cats respond.

Nine cats exceeded this 55C limit for the heat sensitivity test, and “owing to various issues full data from two cats could not be collected.”

Bristol leaflet