Have the Scientists Gone Too Far with Animals?!

Have you ever found yourself falling asleep while reading an academic journal article? Me too!

We all dread reading academic journal articles, especially the method section, which I believe it’s the most boring section. I just couldn’t understand what concoction the scientists are trying to brew in their experiments, so I usually fall asleep in this section.

But yesterday was different. For once, after reading the method section in a journal article, I was left horrified.

An innocent laboratory rodent. Photo via Flickr. (Credit: Ezio Melotti)

Warning! Distressing Story Ahead.

In this study, the researchers were investigating the effects of depression on gut bacteria in rats. In the method section, the scientists described how depression was stimulated in these laboratory animals.

To induce depression, the investigators inhumanely tortured rats by immobilizing them for 5 hours. As if that wasn’t enough, they also starved the rats without food and water for 48 hours.

Upon reading this, I had to pause and take a breather. These conditions were just downright cruel! Try putting yourself in these animals’ shoes. How would you feel?

These poor laboratory animals were deprived of their basic animal rights – food, water, and their freedom of movement. But the animal torture didn’t end there.

What a horror!

The rats were continuously exposed to flashes of intense light for 4 hours. They were also exposed to loud noises at 110 decibels for 4 hours – that’s the equivalent of live rock music!

The worst of all? They were forced to swim in extreme temperatures (45°C and 15°C) for 5 minutes.

When I saw that these ill-treatments continued for a total of 28 days, my heart just sunk. I felt so sorry for what these laboratory animals went through for the benefit of our human health.

Example of animal cruelty in a study. Created with Biorender.com. (Photo by author).

Cruelty to laboratory animals

In another study, 21 sedated miniature pigs were strapped to sleds and slammed into the walls at 40 km/hour to test the injuries induced by the impact of military vehicle crashes.

In another separate study, I have seen mice bearing huge tumours that would have potentially caused severe physical and mental suffering to these animals.

I am pretty sure there are plenty of other journal articles out there with appalling methods that traumatize these laboratory animals. But I just can’t continue to research on lab animal cruelty and imagine what kind of distress these animals went through for us.

All I do know is that there has got to be a limit to animal cruelty!

Hold on a minute!

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not against animal experimentation.

In fact, without animals, 83% of Nobel Prize-winning discoveries would not have been made possible.

Throughout human history, animal studies have contributed to the scientific community by addressing the underlying origin of the disease. They have also helped in the development of vaccines and drugs that help to prevent, relieve, and cure diseases.

As a researcher, I have read many journal articles that provided me with valuable information that doesn’t involve inhumane animal research methods. So, indeed, it’s possible to continue animal research by following ethical conduct for the care and use of animals.

A Plea to Researchers – The 3Rs

I feel that ‘scientific scribbles’ is the perfect platform to get my message across to junior scientists on the ethical conduct for the usage of lab animals for research.

I just want researchers to remember the 3Rs – replace, reduce, and refinement.

  • Replace the use of animals with cell culture or computational models, if possible.
  • Use what is necessary and reduce the number of animals used in your experiment.
  • Refine your experimental methods to reduce pain, distress, and discomfort to our lab animals.

The use of animals in research is an absolute privilege to all of us, and we must not take that for granted.

Class of 2020, Ye Mon Soe.

Posted October 06, 2020.


2 Responses to “Have the Scientists Gone Too Far with Animals?!”

  1. Mon says:

    Thank you, Cmcentee! I totally agree with you. I really felt sorry for all these laboratory animals.
    Thanks for reading! (:

  2. cmcentee says:

    Ahh this one got me in the feels! It is quite horrible to hear what lengths some scientists may go to, and while it is important we tested the safety and efficacy of drugs and other products, sometimes I think we need to take a step back and consider developing some new models. In the mean time, the three R’s you mentioned are great!