Otago University has come under fire for experiments conducted in 2009, studying the blood splatter pattern of pigs when shot in the head.
The study was published in July of this year, with Peta U.S.A. then criticising the use of pigs for this research project and bringing awareness globally to what’s happened in Dunedin.
In a statement, Otago University said the pigs “were all very closely monitored for signs of pain and none was observed … [back-spatter] is often important evidence in homicide cases and its accurate interpretation can be key to exonerating the innocent or convicting the guilty.”
Dunedin animal rights activists held a vigil last Tuesday afternoon, burning memorial candles for animals killed in experiments for science.
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Carl Scott, spokesperson for the Dunedin Animal Rights Collective, said “many alternatives exist which allow scientists to collect the data they need, yet don’t require any animals to be killed”, including methods used by science-based shows like Mythbusters to replicate the human body without actually hurting anyone—pig or human.
“Also, because pigs’ skulls are so different than human skulls, it is difficult to imagine how the data they collected could even be useful,” Scott said.
In 2014 alone, 21,705 animals were used by Otago University, with 18,166 of them dying in the process.
Many activists view this as a waste of life and this issue as much more than just an “animal welfare problem”.
This news comes out only shortly after it was announced that Otago University ranks in at 2nd in New Zealand for biological sciences, with only its partner-in-crime for this act, University of Auckland, displacing it from the lead position.
When it comes to Victoria, the University claimed that “Victoria takes the review of animal ethics very seriously. Any animal research that is conducted at Victoria University is reviewed by an ethics committee comprised of members of the community, a student representative, expert animal researchers, animal technicians, a veterinarian, and non-animal researchers.”
Current research at Victoria that involves animals ranges from the catching, tagging and tracking of small animals such as hedgehogs and fish, to inducing tumours in mice for the purposes of cancer research.