News - Rabbit tests exposed

News - Rabbit tests exposed

Lab test horror: Terrified rabbits starved for 30 hours then put in stocks and injected with drugs

Daily Mail 17th April 2011

An undercover investigation has revealed that bunnies are being subjected to excruciating drug tests after being starved for up to 30 hours, denied water, then locked into vices - with some not surviving the ordeal.

Some may feel that dying would be a better option for the rabbits, because those that did live through it were simply re-used and kept in bare metal cages that drove them half-mad.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, or BUAV, spent eight months at Wickham Laboratories in Hampshire secretly filming their procedures - and say that the lab inflicted 'appalling suffering' on thousands of animals in tests that are 'crude, archaic and extremely cruel'.


Among the lab's subjects are a colony of around 100 rabbits which are used to test the side effects of antibiotics, blood filters and saline waters.

BUAV say that the test substances are injected into an ear vein that sometimes results in painful damage to the ear and weeping eyes. In other instances a temperature probe is inserted into the animal's rectum and left for hours at a time.

The rabbits clearly find these tests uncomfortable and distressing. Those that are too weak to be used again are killed afterwards, the others are returned to bare metal cages that just add to the suffering.

Rabbits are naturally social and inquisitive animals and the undercover operative discovered that with opportunities to mix and burrow denied to them, some were displaying signs of mental distress such as repetitive pacing and biting of the cage bars.

What's more, some of the rabbits are used over and over again for months at a time.

BUAV insists that many of the tests are not required by international law and point to a recent Home Office report on the Wickham Laboratories that was highly critical of it.

The report found that staff training at the facility was 'poor', non-animal alternatives were not properly explored and some animals were killed in an entirely inappropriate way, such as mice being put to death by workers who broke their necks with a pen on the floor.


The report also stated that some of the tests ran for far too long.

'We continually review the requirement for these tests and have reduced the number of substances tested in this way,' a Wickham Labs spokesman told the Sunday Mirror. 'Paramount to us is the well-being of our laboratory animals.'


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Sunday Mirror - Exposed: the British lab carrying out "needless" tests on live rabbits.

Exposed: the British lab carrying out "needless" tests on live rabbits

Sunday Mirror 17/04/2011

THEIR heads trapped in vices, these terrified rabbits are about to be subjected to ­agonising medical tests in a British ­laboratory.

As drugs are injected into their bodies, their eyes bulge and they frantically try to wriggle free.

By the time their ordeal is over some are so weak they have to be killed. The others are returned to their cages for a brief respite before the start of another round of tests.

These shocking images ­expose the increasing use of live rabbits in British labs.

The substances injected into the rabbits include ­antibiotics, blood filters and saline waters - to see if they cause any side-effects.

The number of tests has soared by 800 per cent from 196 in 2008 to 1,590 in 2009.

But outraged campaigners say there is no need for them as there are alternatives.

And European guidelines which say non-animal tests must be used wherever ­possible are being ignored as they are not backed up by law.

Also, rabbits are cheap.

The distressing images were obtained following an eight-month undercover ­investigation at ­Wickham ­Laboratory, Hants, by the British Union for the ­Abolition of ­Vivisection.

Firms such as Pfizer, which is working on a female version of Viagra, have products ­tested on rabbits in other UK labs.

The undercover team filmed more than 100 rabbits kept in small cages. Terrified, many were seen biting the bars of their cages and frantically ­hopping around.

Before each round of tests they were starved for up to 30 hours and given no water for eight.

Collars were then put around their necks to stop them moving as they were ­injected with drugs through a vein in their ear for up to six hours.

Their temperature was recorded using a ­thermometer inserted into their rectum, which caused them to kick out in agony. At one point a ­worker trying to stick a needle in the ear of one rabbit was heard to say: "I can't, I just can't. I'm quitting - he's already got two b***dy holes in there."

A recent Home Office report criticised the Wickham lab - which also tests Botox on mice - and ­concluded that staff training was "poor".

Sarah Kite, of the BUAV, said: "These are crude and cruel tests that involve much suffering. It is ­outrageous that the Government allows such cruelty to continue."

Many of the rabbit tests are not required under international standards and the Home Office itself says they can be replaced by a "new technique using human blood cells".

The Home Office's policy is to license animal experiments only "when there is no alternative".

A spokesman for Pfizer said: ­"Laboratory animals were used in the development of Viagra as part of regulatory safety and toxicology ­testing. All new medicines undergo these tests prior to clinical testing."

A Wickham Labs spokesman said: "We continually review the ­requirement for these tests and have reduced the number of substances tested in this way. Paramount to us is the well-being of our laboratory animals."

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