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Rats used in tinnitus experiment at Otago University - NZAVS

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A scientific watchdog continuing investigation into the University of Otago has now uncovered an experiment where rats were subjected to acoustic trauma to simulate tinnitus and then electrically shocked.

The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) is accusing the University of Otago of having a long history of harming animals. 

Their investigation, which started earlier this week, has now uncovered a paper where rats had their ears damaged by being exposed to a loud noise to try and cause tinnitus. The animals were then subject to electric shocks combined with sounds to see how they would respond.

"The volume of the noise that was blasted directly into the ear of sedated rats for one whole hour was equivalent to a working chainsaw or an air-raid siren," said NZAVS executive director Tara Jackson in a statement.

"Giving animals electric shocks is cruel by itself. But the intention of this experiment would have been to create fear - these poor rats would have been traumatised," said Jackson.

NZAVS claims that a pattern of cruelty is emerging.

"Of course, it should come as no surprise that the University of Otago performed this experiment. From the past few decades of research to their new $50 million animal lab, a pattern of cruelty is emerging."

"The University of Otago seems to lack any sort of motivation to move away from animal testing. They’re stuck on these outdated animal models - which do not work very well, since other animals do not provide accurate models of humans. They should be looking at a future where they use 21st century technologies instead of animal experiments," added Jackson.

Watchdog NZAVS has been campaigning for years calling upon the University of Otago to alter its policies regarding the use of animals in experiments. The watchdog refutes the claim that the University of Otago is doing enough.

"The University of Otago is great at talking up their ‘robust’ processes that they use, but the bottom line is they invested $50 million in doing more animal experiments and are not focused on investing in the alternatives. It is clear they just want to stick with the methods they have always used," said Jackson.

"These experiments so far are only the tip of the iceberg. We are going to continue to expose the University of Otago until either they change, or until the government intervenes. We have a petition that we’ll be putting in front of the government next year,’ said Jackson.

The Striking at the Source petition that NZAVS plans to deliver to the government next year will call for comprehensive reforms of the sector, focusing on creating a long-term strategy for phasing out the harmful use of animals in science and replacing them with more modern technologies.

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