Baby Animals Used to Grow Pathogens at Secret UK Government Laboratory


Using the Freedom of Information Act, Animal Aid UK has obtained the minutes of internal meetings that contained summaries of some of the experiments being conducted at Porton Down, a government laboratory located in England. The documents serve as evidence of cruel experiments and poor conditions for animals housed there.

Baby animals are used at Porton Down for ‘pathogenic propagation,’ to grow pathogens to be used in the experiments. A pathogen is a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease. New-born animals are chosen because they ‘have no immune system to fight disease and thus allows [sic]the agent to propagate.’ 

Once they are grown in baby animals, the pathogens are used in experiments on other animals, where terrible symptoms are expected. Some of the signs researchers ‘expect to see’ include: congestion in animals’ eyes, abscesses, neurological issues and problems with balance.

A report concerning the breeding colony of monkeys at the establishment explains that one female was ‘unsuccessful at carrying pregnancies to full term and was euthanized.’

A review of a completed project describes how animals were force-fed ricin ‘directly into the stomach’. (Ricin is the chemical which was used to kill Georgi Markov, with an umbrella, near Waterloo Bridge in 1978.)

The conditions for the animals, quite apart from the torment of the procedures themselves, appear to be woefully inappropriate. The minutes state, ‘To try and reduce stress within the breeding rooms all animals have been placed down one side of the room, so they no longer have visual sight of other animals.’ It has been known for decades that being unable to escape the gaze of other primates can be extremely stressful for these animals.

Additional stress for the animals was also caused by noisy refurbishment work. The minutes explain that ‘the animals found the noise levels stressful, resulting in a couple of cesarean sections and fighting.’

Animal Aid is calling for an immediate ban on all warfare experiments on animals. Says Jessamy Korotoga, Campaign Manager: “Animal experiments do not generate data which can be reliably translated to humans, so they are scientifically flawed. Adding to this the immoral act of exposing animals to compounds and weapons which have been specifically designed to harm and kill humans, warfare experiments are clearly indefensible. Animal Aid, its supporters and many parliamentarians want to see a ban on warfare experiments on animals immediately.”

There is currently an Early Day Motion (EDM) in Parliament which not only outlines the horrors of warfare experiments on animals, but also calls for a ban on the practice.

UK citizens, contact your Member of Parliament (MP) today to ask them to sign EDM 2113. 

Featured image: a marmoset, one of the species used for experiments at Porton Downs. Image via Animal Aid UK.

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Animal Aid was founded in January 1977 to work, by all peaceful means, for an end to animal cruelty. Our vision is a world in which animals are no longer harmed and exploited for human gain, but allowed to live out their lives in peace. We work hard to bring an end to practices that involve animal abuse and exploitation, but we also take a pragmatic approach and call for measures such as CCTV in slaughterhouses, that will help to reduce suffering in the meantime. Click to see author's profile.

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