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

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/04/17/exposed-the-british-lab-carrying-out-needless-tests-on-live-rabbits-n-115875-23065974/

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

by Nick Owens, 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.'

 For more information on the campaign, go to www.buav.org

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