The BUAV's recent exposé of experiments carried out on kittens at Cardiff University has received widespread attention. Today, the South Wales Echo has carried a follow-up article in which it reports that the deputy leader of Cardiff council, Neil McEvoy, has written to the Vice-Chancellor at the University asking why its scientists are using cats in experiments.
The experiment, in which 19 two to six months old kittens were subjected to invasive surgery under anaesthesia and had parts of their brains exposed in order to implant electrodes, hit the headlines earlier this year in the Wales on Sunday newspaper.
Since that time an attempt by the BUAV to find out further information about this and other experiments on cats under the UK's Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, has been refused by Cardiff University. This lack of accountability and transparency is totally unacceptable. Much of the animal research carried out at universities such as Cardiff is funded by the tax payer. The Medical Research Council supported the kitten experiment. Therefore, it is important that Cardiff University is held accountable for the pain and suffering it inflicts on animals.
Use our online lobby tool to ask your MP to take action on Freedom of Information.
In 2009, Cardiff University was responsible for using 46 cats, which accounted for 26% (over a quarter) of all those cats used in research facilities in the whole of the UK during that time period.
In another experiment uncovered by the BUAV, cats were implanted with electrodes and placed in sound-proofed large boxes so researchers could record their brain activity. Other cats were deeply anaesthetised and their brains removed while they were technically still alive so that the researchers could do additional experiments on slices of their brains.
Roger Williams MP has also tabled a number of Parliamentary Questions to establish further information on the use of animals in experiments during 2009 in Wales.
The BUAV has received support from Dr Adrian Stallwood, a lecturer at Cardiff University, who has spoken out against the kitten experiments and also written to the Vice-Chancellor.
Dr Stallwood states:
"As a medical practitioner used to assessing clinical papers, I cannot see how these cruel experiments could have any use in developing treatments for people or animals - indeed, Cardiff University have refused to explain how they could. It is highly disturbing that the scientific papers describing the experiments do not fulfill even the minimum guidelines from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research - which makes them nearly useless as information sources. The overall impression is of blinkered academics pursuing esoteric interests, oblivious to the suffering they inflict on animals."
(Dr Adrian Stallwood, MB BS, Specialty Doctor in Emergency Medicine, Lecturer in Emergency Medicine to Cardiff University Medical Undergraduates)
Dr Ned Buyukmihci, the BUAV's Veterinary Adviser and an ophthalmologist, stated the following regarding the experiment on kittens:
"Not only was this not a study in ‘vision’, it was of little relevance to human beings. The structure and function of the eyes and brains of cats with respect to vision are substantially different from human beings. Furthermore, the information ‘learned’ from this study is not even of value to veterinary medicine. The cats in question were mutilated and suffered for no benefit to anyone. The information could have been derived from elegant, and ethical, studies on people."
(Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Emeritus Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists)
Read today's South Wales Echo story
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