Exposing animal experiments at Cardiff University
Despite the fact that there exists humane and effective methods of research not involving animals that many research facilities have now adopted with great success, Cardiff University continues to use animals in their thousands – mice, rats, rabbits, fish, pigeons and amphibians. In 2015, the university used no less than 52,000 of these animals in cruel and pointless research – making it one of the largest users of animals in the entire country. The overwhelming number of animals used were mice. Two other universities in Wales also use animals – University of Aberystwyth and Swansea University.
Cardiff University has signed onto the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research and states: “We are committed to providing open and transparent information about our research involving animals and our standards of animal care and welfare”. In January 2016, the university also launched ‘The Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative’ (PRO)’ with the aim of “increasing the quality and efficiency of scientific research through the spread of open and transparent research practices”.
However, in reality the animal experiments at Cardiff are hidden from public view (and scrutiny). In 2012, the university came under colossal fire for cruel cat experiments where the animals had their eyelids sewn together, it is therefore also likely that the other experiments being carried out there would lay the university open to a hostile reception from the public.
A year later, in 2013, Cardiff again used animals in sensory deprivation experiments, this time mice. Under a local anaesthetic, mice were “monocularly deprived by eyelid suture”. In other words, they had one of their eyelids sewn closed. They were half blinded in this way for up to seven days, allowed to recover for a month, then underwent the ordeal again. How many other animals have been blinded at the hands of Cardiff University researchers?
Four years later, despite so many modern advances, Cardiff University continues using cruel and outdated animal experiments. Much of the work at Cardiff is considered to be ‘fundamental’ or ‘basic’ research – in other words, it is curiosity-driven. And at the expense of another living, breathing, sentient being who will have suffered before being killed, either through the confinement or the procedures themselves.
Cardiff University researchers have subjected animals (mainly mice and rats) to some extreme experiments designed to simulate various forms of trauma for a long time.
In one of these studies the effects of a new ‘dual homing’ agent was tested on young mice who were inflicted with head trauma. The animals had 2cm rods dropped onto their heads which resulted in “severe degree of traumatic brain injury” and “severe and widespread inflammation”. To inflict this trauma, the animals were immobilized on a platform, their hair removed, and skulls exposed. The weights used to cause the injury weighed 340g, the mice themselves only weighed 30g. Imagine having a rod weighing over six times your body weight dropped onto your head! A homing agent was injected into the mice straight after this in order to reduce inflammation and neurological damage. Regardless, this type of injury is serious.
Following this blunt force trauma, the animals were kept alive for another 72 hours and subjected to a series of tests. One involved researchers logging the animals’ ability to walk on beams and sticks.
This cruel experiment has been hailed as a “breakthrough” by Cardiff University in December 2015. Professor Claire Harris added: “Development of this new homing agent is exciting. We’ve shown that it can be administered in mice some time after the trauma and still be effective. If our findings can be translated into humans this could be life-changing for patients with head injuries”. She fails to acknowledge the vast differences between mice and humans in terms of basic biology, anatomy and physiology!
Animal Justice Project can reveal that one of the researchers involved in this research has been causing brain injury and chest trauma to animals since at least 2009. In 2015 he was inflicting blunt chest trauma using a single blast on the thoraxes of rats, which lead to acute mortality rates of around 5 per cent (due to cardiac rupture and post-traumatic apnea). This particularly cruel study was funded by the Brain Foundation of the Netherlands. Another researcher in the mouse study has been carrying out similar work on mice and rats in various universities around the world, including in the Netherlands, London and Bulgaria.
In one of the many experiments on Parkinson’s Disease, pregnant mice were decapitated and their unborn babies removed via caesarean. Tissues taken from those fetuses were grafted into the brains of other mice who were only six to eight weeks old. They were also given brain lesions and had amphetamine injected into their necks and stomachs by researchers. The mice were then monitored and their behaviour (for example, circling) scored before being killed by a lethal overdose. This experiment was funded by Parkinson’s UK. It is the kind of funding they do not make public on their website and materials. How many more animals have been subjected to brain damage by Cardiff University researchers?
At an experiment in Cardiff University in 2015, rats were subjected to electric shocks on their feet so that researchers could monitor the memory of the animals. And the fear. The rats were placed in a ‘shock cage’ and if they froze or displayed any type of distressed behaviour, researchers concluded the animals remembered the fear and pain. The rats were then killed.
In summary …
Animal Justice Project has uncovered researchers at Cardiff University to be damaging the spines of animals; keeping animals alive with painful tumours; injecting animals with viruses such as herpes; forcing them to inhale irritants; forcing them to navigate confusing mazes and swim tests following major brain surgery, and being killed by decapitation and gassing.
Not only this, the hygiene at Cardiff University appears to leave much to be desired. There has been an outbreak of parvovirus, as well as an outbreak of pinwork which they admit themselves has been going on for “many years”. Animal Justice Project has, via Freedom of Information requests, found that the rate of pathogen infections has affected “breeding performance” and the body weight of babies. Another alarming fact is that the veterinary surgeon’s requests for information from Cardiff researchers has “not been forthcoming”.
Much animal research at Cardiff University is funded by the unsuspecting public. Charity organisations such as Cancer Research uk, British Heart Foundation, Arthritis UK, Asthma UK and Parkinson’s UK are just a few examples of organisations found to be propping up animal experimentation at the university.
Cardiff University leaflet