The three main uses of animals for testing are in biomedical research, product testing and education, the military also use a number of animals for trauma exercises. Because of the secrecy and lack of regulation protecting lab animals accurate figures on the number of animals used in experiments are not definitive. The numbers vary from a conservative 115 million animals per year worldwide to more than 250 million sentient and loving beings. That’s approximately 2,900 animals that are abused, maimed, tortured and eventually killed every single hour.
There is no species of animal that is exempt from the barbaric and painful experiments that are conducted by research facilities, cosmetics and food companies, universities and other such laboratories including school labs.
Monkeys, pigs, hamsters, rabbits, frogs, squirrels, baboons, horses, guinea pigs, mice, sheep, birds, iguanas, rats, chimpanzees, gerbils, woodchucks, ferrets, cows, zebras, fish and even our beloved and loyal dogs and cats suffer the miserable fate of being tested upon.
No matter which animals are used, they must be restrained and so a number of restraining devices have been invented that resemble devices found in torture chambers during medieval times. These include squeeze back cages, restraint boards and chairs as well as tethers and nets.
Are Animal Experiments Useful?
But are these tests necessary? The fact is no they are not necessary, in fact using results and data derived from experiments conducted on animals can be detrimental to human health. The reason being is that humans and animals are different both in terms of biochemistry and metabolism so therefore medicines or chemicals will react and work differently in different species.
There have been a number of instances where a pharmaceutical compound had been proved safe and effective in animals but then had disastrous effects on humans. One such agent is thalidomide which caused birth defects in tens of thousands of babies after being rigorously tested on animals and approved as safe. Also the way a disease progresses in humans and in other animal species is very different. Add to that fact that an artificially induced medical condition will behave very differently from the naturally occurring disease.
For example, the hope of finding a cure for AIDS has led to increased testing on monkeys but monkeys do not develop AIDS, so instead the disease is forcibly induced using a cocktail of immunosuppressants and exposure to the SIV virus which different from HIV. How can any information gathered from such vastly differing conditions be extrapolated to humans?
Snatched from the Wild - Sources of animals
So let’s now take a look at where these millions of tortured animals come from and the pain and suffering they will endure for pointless and useless research.
The animals are obtained from class A sources these are companies that specifically breed animals for research. They are genetically pure and free from parasites and are therefore more expensive. However most animals used are class B which are from random sources. These may be dogs and cats purchased from shelters, pounds or puppy mills. They maybe excess animals from zoos or animals caught in the wild. In fact so prevalent was trapping of animals for biomedical research that some species were driven to near extinction. Trapping of wild rhesus monkeys in
Whether dog, cat, bird, monkey or reptile after being purchased the animal will be moved in to their new cell where they have no idea of the horrendous treatment that awaits them. Kept in isolation in small and bare cages with no stimulation and socialization the animals often go insane and develop repetitive or psychotic behaviors. Some of these animals commit self harm and chew on their own limbs. Veterinary care is also kept to a minimum as experimenters don’t want the treatment to interfere with the test results. Usually the cheapest class B animals are purchased as they are easier to handle because they are used to humans.
These animals are roughly handled, coerced and beaten in to submission and this is just the beginning of their nightmare. The only break they get from their solitary confinement is when they are pulled terrifyingly from the cages in order to be used in tests involving tubes being forced in to their noses and stomachs, open brain surgery, painful injections, exposure to cancers and diseases all whist being restrained with out anesthetics or painkillers.
The cosmetics industry often carries out experiments to see how products affect the eyes of albino rabbits this is also known as the Draize test. These tests are very subjective and the results are not applicable to humans as the structure of the cornea as well as the eye ducts and distribution of blood vessels differ greatly.
In this brutal experiment rows of rabbits are kept in full body restraints with only their heads protruding. Next clips are placed on their eyelids so that they cannot blink then the corrosive chemical agent is dropped or smeared in to their eyes.
The rabbits are kept restrained for up to three weeks; the experimenter will then check the rabbit’s eyes every 24 hours for any damage. These highly sensitive creatures are fully conscious and are not given any anesthetics nor are they fed during the test period. Many animals struggle so hard to escape that they break their necks and backs thus dying slowly and painfully. The rabbits often suffer from eye sores, ulcers, bleeding, dry scabs and blindness.
Another common test in the cosmetics industry is the skin irritancy test, for this the test animals which may be rodents or other small mammals have a patch of skin shaved then abraded.
The skin is made raw by applying adhesive tape to the exposed skin and then ripping it off. This process is repeated several times to remove many layers of skin. Next the caustic chemical is applied to the raw skin. This often results in sores, open wounds and infections and a lot of pain and discomfort.
50% of all test animals will die from their wounds 2 to 3 weeks after testing.
For the rest of these defenseless animals, they will eventually be killed by having their necks twisted or by banging their heads on the edge of a desk.
Lethal Dose Tesing (LD50) and others
For measuring the poisonous effect of a compound the acute toxicity test known as the LD50 test are routine in laboratories across the world. In these experiments large numbers of animals usually mice are force fed increasing doses of the chemicals.
The test substances are forced through tubes in to the animal’s stomach or through holes cut in to the throat. Alternatively it may be injected directly in to a vein, into the lining of the abdomen or under the skin. Forced inhalation is also common especially for gaseous chemicals as well as narcotics such as crack or nicotine.
The experimenters then observe the animals and note any occurrences which include convulsions, diarrhea, skin eruptions, bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth or vaginal cavities.
The goal of the experiment is to see what concentration of the compound will cause 50% of the animals to die. So the experimenter will continue to feed the chemical until half of them die, the rest will be killed anyway and examined by autopsy. However alternatives do exist, the use of cultured cells in a test tube has been found to be more accurate in predicting toxicity then these barbaric and out-dated LD50 tests.
In chronic toxicity tests larger mammals such as dogs are repeatedly dosed with a chemical over a long period to see what effect it may have, the test ends when the animals dies or is killed. Carcinogenicity tests involve the test animal being repeatedly and forcefully exposed to the test chemical for 2 years. The animal which is usually a rodent is then killed and examined. However these tests have been proven to be invalid as mice are significantly more prone to developing cancer than humans.
Teratogenicity tests seek to discover whether a drug will cause birth defects. So a female animal is forcibly made pregnant and then injected with harmful substances. As soon as she gives birth, her children are immediately taken away, killed and then dissected. For a majority of these tests larger numbers of animals are used to achieve more accurate results. However for all of these inhumane tests, non-animal and cruelty free alternatives do exist.
Millions of animals each year live in such terrible condition and are forced to endure a vast array of inhumane treatment all in the name of research. Here, only a few of the most common torture methods have been mentioned but there as many ways of testing on animals are there are numbers of animals being tested on. And new experiments or tests are invented and carried out every day.
In particular the most wasteful and horrific trend is in “curiosity” research, this involves research that has no purpose but is done out of mere curiosity at the expense of the life and the well being of the animals involved. Here are some examples: British researchers blinded kittens by sowing up their eyelids, next horseradish peroxidase a very noxious chemical was injected in to their brains. The kittens were then killed and observations were made. In another study in the
In a Canadian experiment, polar bears were made to swim through a water tank filled with crude oil. When the bears licked themselves to clean away the oil, they ingested so much oil that they developed kidney failure and died. Conclusion: Polar bears should not swim in crude oil. In
These are obviously cruel and ridiculous studies. A pregnant rat had her womb cut open then bolts frozen in liquid nitrogen were held against the heads of the developing babies. The fetuses were then extracted, killed and their brains examined to determine the amount of damaged caused. These are just a small number of the huge amount of needless “curiosity” research carried out all the time.
In pharmaceutical research a variety of healthy animals are purposely given diseases or health problems. Harmful chemicals are injected in to the joints of rats to induce arthritis. Some animals are given cancer by grafting tumors on to their bodies. They are infected with HIV, hepatitis, herpes and host of other diseases. Chemicals are injected in to animals which destroy the pancreas and thus induce diabetes. Injections have also been given to apes to induce Parkinson’s disease. Monkeys are addicted to crack cocaine and heroine and dogs are forced to smoke massive amounts of cigarettes.
Primates due to their close relationship to human’s biologically speaking have to bare the brunt of the worst and most disturbing experiments. In one experiment hundreds of macaque monkeys had their brains deliberately damaged to research Parkinson’s disease and strokes. The animals had parts of their brain destroyed by injecting toxin or by surgical removal or cutting of certain brain areas. These animals were often left alone after surgery with no veterinary care.
In yet another experiment a professor of neurosurgery induced strokes in baboons by removing their left eyeball and then clamping an important blood vessel that lies behind the socket until a stroke was induced. Then a new drug was used to see if the ape would recover, regardless of the outcome the baboons were eventually killed and dissected. Another infamous case was that of “Britches” the macaque monkey who was removed from his mother at birth and then had his eyes stitched shut and was left alone tethered to the ground; this was a sight-deprivation experiment. These are not isolated incidences; such tortures and worse are committed everyday.
So what can we do to stop this pointless cruelty? When shopping check that the products you buy are marked “Not tested on animals” and also that they contain no animal products. Secondly you can write to your local government representative voicing your feelings about animal experimentation. This can be an important step as a lot of research is actually funded by the government through taxes. Most of all spread the word on the cruelty of animal experimentation and adopt a compassionate plant based diet out of respect and love for all the beings that inhabit this earth.