Thousands of rabbits are suffering in painful experiments in British universities every day, according to an animal rights campaign group.
Animal Justice Project says these include rabbits being deliberately infected with cholera, having their eyelids sewn shut, and having painful injections directly into their spines.
AJP claims that universities are - year on year - becoming increasingly secretive about animal experiments, and says its efforts to find out how many rabbits in British universities have been thwarted.
Rabbits in experiments
The organization contacted 112 universities and university colleges this year, under the Freedom of Information Act.
By April 14, seven universities hadn't responded and 33 refused to provide numbers. Of these, 31 refused to provide numbers due to future publication on their websites, one cited time pressure, and another gave no explanation.
29 out of 70 universities known to house animals for experiments responded with the numbers and types of animals used, and 43 universities replied saying they don't use animals.
As a result of this secrecy, the organization has launched a new campaign - called 'Missing' - to shine a light on rabbit research at British universities, and call for an end to it.
It will be carrying out stunts at some universities this Easter via the campaign which is supported by pop star, Moby, and TV celebrity, Peter Egan.
'Unpalatable to many'
"In this day and age, with increasing numbers of vegans living compassionate lifestyles, animal experiments like those we have uncovered in universities will be unpalatable to many," Claire Palmer, Founder of Animal Justice Project, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"Particularly when they involve rabbits .. a much loved animal who some share their home with. Disturbingly, thousands of rabbits are being used in UK laboratories and universities just won't tell us what is happening to them.
"Animal Justice Project's 'Missing' campaign shines a light on the secretive world of rabbit experiments this Easter and we aim to end them."
'Transparency is needed'
"Well done to Animal Justice Project for shining a light on the misery of rabbits used in cruel experiments at British universities," vegan musician Moby said.
"Transparency is urgently needed. We need to know the truth about what is done to animals when the laboratory doors are locked. Time is up on animal cruelty".
The campaign video by Animal Justice Project
'End animal experiments'
"My first relationship with another species came about as a result of being introduced to either The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, Brer Rabbit or Bugs Bunny," vegan activist and Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan added.
"Rabbits like dogs and cats are an integral part of my introduction to the world of animals and my first engagement with compassion. Rabbit toys or live family members. They capture our hearts and if we are lucky define our compassion in later life.
"Don't we owe them a huge debt of gratitude? Don't they deserve more than to be used as specimens in labs to be tortured and tested upon. Have a heart. Remember your first love. Don't use Rabbits as basic research fodder. End animal experiments."
Wendy Jarrett, Chief Executive of Understanding Animal Research, denied that universities were being secretive in a statement obtained by Metro UK.
"If alternatives to animal research are available and have been validated by regulators then it is illegal to use an animal and the research will not receive a licence from the Home Office," Jarrett said.
"So rabbits are only used for safety testing, for instance to check that a vaccine will not cause fever in babies and children, when there is no non-animal alternative available.
"Of course, cosmetic testing using animals has been banned in the UK for the last 20 years and household product testing is also subject to a policy ban in this country."