(CELEBRITIES/ANIMAL TESTING) International celebrities like Ricky Gervais of the UK’s The Office, Joanna Lumley of The Corpse Bride, and famed cinematographer Chris Packham have successfully banded with the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) to stop UK researchers in Kenya from using wildlife for disturbing experiments.
The UK prohibits using wild animals such as baboons for experimentation, but the BUAV’s investigation found that in order to get around such laws, researchers from New Castle University were experimenting on baboons in Kenya. Fortunately, following public pressure, the university is finally putting an end to the cruelty.
“We are committed to excellent standards of animal welfare and to the principles of the ‘3Rs’ in our medical research. This is why we will be stopping the research in Kenya and reviewing all our overseas research involving animals,” a University spokesman said.
Continue reading for more about the BUAV and their findings. — Global Animal
British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV)
Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley and Chris Packham have joined the BUAV call for an end to the cruel capture and use of wild baboons in disturbing experiments in Kenya. Legislation in Kenya relating to animal experiments is outdated and hopelessly inadequate. Wild baboons are captured and held at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi under conditions which seriously compromise their welfare and breach international guidelines, before being subjected to disturbing experiments, including some carried out by UK researchers.
In the UK, using wild-caught primates in research was effectively banned in 1995, yet a BUAV investigation has revealed that researchers from Newcastle University are bypassing UK law and using public funds to go to Kenya to use wild-caught baboons in highly invasive experiments.
Long term supporter of the BUAV, Ricky Gervais, spoke out upon hearing about the investigation:
‘The findings from the BUAV investigation into the use of wild-caught baboons for research in Kenya is very distressing. Their film shows just how much the animals suffer after being trapped in the wild and held captive in terrible conditions, some for years on end. The UK doesn’t allow experimentation on wild-caught primates and I hope that the findings of this investigation will make a real difference to stopping the practice in Kenya and other countries.
Ricky was also joined by Joanna Lumley and Chris Packham who both spoke out against the suffering inflicted on these wild animals:
Joanna said: ‘It is hard to comprehend how frightening and confusing it must be for any wild animal to find itself suddenly seized and held captive in a small barren cage. The film from the BUAV’s investigation is truly upsetting and I hope it results in a positive change for animals with a ban on the use of wild-caught primates for research.’
Chris Packham said: ‘Keeping baboons in these terrible conditions when they are used to living freely on the plains of Africa is desperately cruel. You can see from the images how barren and restrictive their cages are compared to the open spaces in their natural habitat. Using wild-caught primates in research has been banned in the UK and I think it is unacceptable that UK researchers should travel to Kenya to carry out such experiments. I fully support the BUAV campaign to stop this.’
Other high-profile spokespeople to have expressed support for the BUAV campaign include Wildlife Presenters Simon King and Mark Carwardine, Actor Peter Egan and Presenter Wendy Turner Webster.
The BUAV is calling on the Kenyan government to take a stand and dissociate itself from the cruelties of the wild-caught trade by introducing a ban on the capture and use of wild primates for research. It is also urging the UK government to close the loophole that allows UK researchers to bypass UK law and carry out experiments on wild-caught primates overseas and for Newcastle University to stop supporting such cruelty and ban its researchers from using public funding to travel to Kenya to experiment on baboons.
Concerns raised by the BUAV include:
- The trapping and transportation of wild baboons: taken from the wild, baboons are crammed into small cages and shipped for many hours on the back of pick-up trucks to the IPR. The capture of non-human primates from the wild is cruel and inflicts a great deal of suffering. The substantial negative impact caused by trapping is universally recognized by official bodies and the use of wild-caught primates in research is banned in many countries, including in practice the UK.
- The conditions at the IPR: the baboons were held under conditions which seriously compromised their welfare and breached international guidelines, including those of the European Directive and the International Primatological Society. Some of the baboons were housed on their own in barren metal cages with no enrichment. These conditions can cause disturbed abnormal behaviour and some animals were seen pacing and circling. The introduction of baboons to others was often done poorly, resulting in fighting and injuries. Some infants were taken from their mothers at a young age and housed alone.
- The experiments carried out at the IPR by researchers from Newcastle University include invasive brain surgery on baboons in which the individual’s head was placed into a stereotaxic frame and held in place whilst the skull was drilled open and parts of the brain removed. The animals were kept alive under anaesthetic for many hours while tests were carried out before being killed. Other brain-damaged baboons were to be kept alive for around 5 weeks – it was acknowledged they might need to be fed with a tube following the surgery.
- Other experiments carried out at the IPR include:the infection of female baboons with Chlamydia, inflicting surgery on females to test new in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques and intra uterine contraceptive devices (IUDs); stitching the wombs of females shut so that their menstrual blood accumulates over many weeks into a large abdominal mass in an attempt to trigger painful endometriosis, infecting baboons with malarial parasites (in some experiments, infection was allowed to run its full course until all the baboons died).