Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > Italy
Hundreds of animals liberated by the Italian ALF

It has been reported by the Italian media that 25 monkeys as well as a 1000 mice have been liberated from a breeding unit of Harlan, Italy. Italian media outlets have said that the raid took place in Correzzana - northeast of Milan in the early hours of Tuesday 21st November at approximately 12.55pm. Newspaper reports state spray painted messages left at the scene claimed the action on behalf of "Fronte Liberazione Animale (FLA)." Computers and other equipment are said to have been destroyed in the raid and it is said that access to the animals was gained by the FLA activists cutting a hole on the roof.

A press release by Harlan on the same day of the raid has claimed: "They caused substantial damage, destroyed laboratory equipment and smeared internal walls with blood and faeces, which we believe may have been video taped for possible publication in order to create a false and improper impression of our facility and activities.

Harlan takes pride in providing quality animal facilities and high standards of animal care. All Harlan facilities meet or exceed all regulatory standards."

The press release goes onto say "the Company deplores the use of such criminal behaviour and Harlan will fully support the police in the prosecution of anyone involved in this criminal activity."

Harlan was founded in 1931 and is a major international company which provides animals as well as animal feed and bedding to vivisection laboratories around the world. Harlan has facilities located throughout the world, including the USA, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Israel, The Netherlands, Mexico and the UK.

According to the company's website, it supplies more stocks and strains of laboratory animals to research than any other commercial producer in the world. It handles beagles, marmosets, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils, cats and hamsters and over 225 stocks and strains of laboratory animals including hybrid, mutant and transgenic animals.

A report by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), who undertook an investigation of a Harlan UK facility, makes Harlan's account of how they treat their animals in their press release look somewhat disengenous.

The BUAV investigators found that animals were kept in multi-tiered metal cages in one unit where guinea pigs are bred. Many of the cages were overcrowded and contained both adults and their young. The floors of the cages were made up of metal bars rather than a solid floor, and although hay is initially put in each cage, it is soon pushed through the bars leaving the animals to live and even give birth on the bare bars. Baby guinea pigs in particular have difficulty walking on these bars: their paws fall through and become trapped. Some were found trampled to death by the adults.

The BUAV report goes on to say: "On some occasions the guinea pigs have been neglected through not being checked, fed or watered. In March 1997 the animals were not cleaned, fed or watered for four days. In August 1998 the animals were again not fed or watered for a number of days - eight adult guinea pigs and a number of new-borns were found dead, arguably as a direct result of this neglect.

Mass killings of hundreds of 'excess' guinea pigs, rats and mice also take place on a regular basis. Most of the entries in Harlan UK's records do not even record the numbers of animals that are killed. However, in just eight days during December 1997, 53 rats and 82 mice were killed. On just one day in August 1998, 84 mice and 12 guinea pigs were killed.

Harlan UK also provides a housing service to other research companies for both stock and experimental animals. A group of stump-tailed macaque monkeys and a number of cynomolgus monkeys are also kept on site. The unit containing the macaques has no windows and no natural light. They are housed singly in small, barren metal and wooden pens. The monkeys have been on the site for years. The oldest macaque, who was killed recently, was 29 years old. She was killed only recently."

The Harlan press release concludes "We are deeply saddened by the notion that animals cared for in a controlled environment will be subject to undue suffering by being released by the activists into the external environment."

It is also believed that Oxford University house their entire stock of breeding macaques at a Harlan UK facility located in Leicestershire. When the BUAV investigator was working undercover at the Leicestershire facility primates being transported from Oxford University to Harlan died - one male and one nursing female died en route. The BUAV investigator was told that their death was due to them being over-sedated.

It is also known that Michael Festing is a consultant to Harlan UK. Michael Festing is the father of Simon Festing, who is the Director of the Research Defence Society (RDS), an organisation that is financed by the vivisection industry and acts as a front to the vivisection industry. It is widely rumoured the Simon Festing gained his position due to the influence his father has in the vivisection industry.

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