Repetitive animal fear experiments at Cardiff University

Repetitive animal fear experiments at Cardiff University

May 5, 2017

Campaigners highlight catalogue of cruel and repetitive fear experiments in Cardiff for World Week for Animals in Laboratories

Non-profit organisation, Animal Justice Project, reveals this World Week for Animals in Laboratories, a catalogue of fear-based experiments at Cardiff University, including those where mice were subjected to electric shocks as featured in the Wales on Sunday newspaper and Wales Online on Sunday 30 April 2017.

In one of a series of experiments for Alzheimer’s research, forty-eight mice were subjected to foot shocks. The animals were then killed when no longer deemed of any use.

In January, Animal Justice Project recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to Cardiff University as part of its Campus without Cruelty campaign, revealing Cardiff to be the largest user of animals in Wales,  experimenting on over 50,264 animals over the past year alone.

Animals used in studies at Cardiff University include rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, rodents, birds, frogs and fish. Cats have also been used in controversial blinding experiments there where cats had their eyes sutured shut.

As part of its probe into animal experiments at Cardiff, Animal Justice Project today reveals that studies date back as far as 2012.

In one 2016 study, baby rats were subjected to surgery involving the exposure of their skulls and compounds injected into their brains. The rats were placed into ‘shock chambers’ and forced to perform in conditioning tests. Distress levels were recorded by researchers and again, the animals were killed at the end of the experiment.

In another 2015 experiment at Cardiff University, rats were inflicted with foot shocks. The rats remembered the shocks and showed signs of fear, noted by researchers as ‘freezing behavior’. This study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.

Researchers at Swansea University have also worked on fear studies alongside Cardiff researchers. In one 2016 study, mice had their calories restricted and were then subjected to fear experiments involving foot shocks. The mice then had their necks broken.

Dr. Andre Menache, Animal Justice Project Science Adviser states: “All of these Cardiff University animal studies share a common theme, namely, carrying out fundamental research (scientific curiosity) dressed up as applied research. This trick is well known to animal researchers, who by now should know that the chances of discovering a medical treatment for humans based on animal experiments is around 0,004%. The trick is to link the animal study (for example electric shocks given to rats) to a human disease (for example Alzheimer’s disease). As unbelievable as this sounds, it actually works to get funding for these animal studies. If only the taxpaying public knew ..”

Despite the fact that there exists humane and effective methods of research not involving animals, which many research facilities now adopt, Cardiff University continues to use animals – including rats, rabbits, fish, pigeons and amphibians – in their thousands. In 2016, leading doctor, Michael Bracke, from the Yale University School of Public Health, condemned animal research, saying ‘animal study methodology is 40 years behind human clinical study design’. In the same year, Professor Malcolm Macleod from The University of Edinburgh stated that two-thirds of all published animal studies contain serious errors, including those published in the best journals. This is particularly relevant for UK universities where most of the so-called ‘fundamental’ research involves animals.

Rachel Ward, Animal Justice Project Spokesperson in Wales states: “Following the success of our Campus Without Cruelty campaign, we have had many requests from the public for more information about these horrific experiments, sadly, as the figures have proven to show, these experiments are not few and far between, and are just a small fraction of the suffering inflicted on animals everyday by Cardiff and Swansea Universities researchers. We call upon them to join the rest of the medical world in abolishing these outdated and cruel experiments in place of real, humane scientific progress”.

Animal Justice Project is an international organisation based in the UK and the United States that works to raise awareness for the plight of animals in laboratories across the world.

References available on request.