On Tuesday the 25th of February 2020, three primate medical experimentation survivors made an escape attempt from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney - desperately fleeing to freedom to avoid further painful procedures forced upon their bodies against their will. They are the faces of animal experimentation here in Australia.
Australians were horrified to learn primate experimentation was occurring right here on their doorstep. But the truth is millions of animals including primates, cats, dogs, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, birds, fish, reptiles, farmed animals and native animals, are subjected to horrific experiments across Australia every year.
This is a hidden industry with virtually no transparency or accountability. The little we do know about animal experimentation in Australia often comes out of published research papers. Animals have been forced into experiments that deliberately give them traumatic brain injuries, infect them with deadly diseases, make them inhale toxic levels of smoke, and involve ‘Frankenstein-like’ procedures where the organs of one animal species are transplanted into another.
These animals have the same ability as us to feel pain, the same ability as us to feel fear, and the same ability as us to suffer – that’s why progressive and ethical researchers are looking to non-animal models to produce more dependable and accurate results, including:
- Computer modelling: new computer models have been shown to more accurately predict the risk of dangerous side effects from heart drugs than animal models.
- In Vitro methods: state-of-the-art science has developed human cell cultures that mimic the structure and function of human organs and organ systems. For example, there are currently ‘organs on a chip’ being used to conduct vital research on a wide range of human diseases including COVID-19, radiation exposure and cystic fibrosis.
- High-speed algorithms: researchers have developed algorithms that can crunch huge quantities of data to predict the toxicity of chemicals to humans, without any animal testing. These methods are not only less expensive, but also appear to be more reliable than animal models.
- Human-patient simulators: medical schools across the United States and Canada have completely replaced the use of live animals in medical training. Instead they achieve better results using advanced human simulators, virtual reality, and supervised clinical experience.
That’s why I’m calling on the NSW Government to urgently invest in humane alternatives to replace cruel and often futile experiments on animals.