A Government report about animals used in research makes for 'disturbing' reading, according to campaigners.
The Animals in Science Regulation Unit annual report 2016 published yesterday, from the Animals in Science Regulation Unit [ASRU] - the regulator of animal experiments - highlights 45 cases of 'non-compliance' with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act or with conditions of licences granted under the Act.
Many of the non-compliance incidents highlight shocking neglect. Unfortunately, the typical action taken against those in the animal experimentation community is a ‘letter of admonition’, retraining or perhaps having a licence revoked.
'Second class animals'
Leading animal protection group Animal Aid says it believes that part of the reason for such inadequate censures is 'that many of the victims are mice, incorrectly perceived by many animal researchers and policymakers as 'second class animals' – less important, or less capable of suffering, than dogs or monkeys'.
The group lists a number of incidents in which neglect led to animal suffering.
These include a failure to provide food to two mice which was not detected despite three days of checks, nor was the deteriorating condition of the mice noted. One mouse was found dead and the other was killed to prevent further suffering.
In another incident, a primate was being imaged, under anaesthetic, by a licence holder, and was placed in a recovery incubator. The licensee forgot to return to monitor the monkey, who was left without access to food and water overnight, and was discovered the next day.
In addition, it is documented that mice died from starvation due to overgrown teeth.
Jessamy Korotoga, Animal Aid Campaign Manager, says: "Animal Aid has been campaigning against cruel, unreliable and unscientific animal experiments for more than forty years.
"Over the past four decades we estimate that more than 120 million animals have been subjected to procedures involving poisoning, burning, surgery, induced cancers and numerous other horrors, in laboratories in the UK.
"The 2016 ASRU annual report serves to highlight exactly how dark and dire life is for animals in laboratories in the present day.
"And we wouldn't be surprised if these terrible incidents were just the tip of the iceberg."