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Please think of rabbits in laboratories this Easter


The BUAV is raising awareness of the cruel use of rabbits in research. In the UK, over 10,000 rabbits are experimented on each year. Over 6,000 of these are used in fundamental and applied research. This research is often very invasive and the rabbits can suffer substantially from being subjected to major surgery, damaged arteries, metal implants and nerve and bone grafts. Much of the research represents one-off speculative attempts to create an ‘animal model’ of a human disease that rabbits would not normally suffer from. Some of these have been heavily criticised and yet researchers continue to use rabbits. 

Rabbits are also used in toxicity (poisoning) tests for drugs, agricultural and industrial chemicals and food additives. In 2010 in the UK over 1,000 pregnant rabbits were subjected to toxicity (poisoning) tests to examine the effects on their unborn babies; 513 rabbits had chemicals dripped into their eyes; 625 rabbits had chemicals rubbed into their shaved skin in the cruel Draize tests (these are still licenced despite the presence of alternative methods) and 5,618 pyrogenicity tests were conducted on over 1,000 rabbits. A recent BUAV investigation at a UK contract testing facility, Wickham Laboratories, graphically exposed the suffering inflicted on these sensitive animals during these cruel and archaic tests - rabbits can be starved of food for up to 30 hours and then restrained by their necks in “stocks” for at least six hours and injected with the test substance into an ear vein. Their temperature is recorded using a thermometer inserted as much as 7.5cm into their rectum.

Rabbits are experimented on in contract testing laboratories and universities. Here are some recent examples of the type of research they are subjected to:

Dr Katy Taylor, BUAV’s Senior Science Adviser stated: “It is unacceptable that thousands of rabbits continue to be used each year in UK laboratories. We urge people to spare a thought for rabbits this Easter.”