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Rabbit jaws drilled into at University of Otago - NZAVS

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A scientific watchdog has been alarmed by a study where researchers drilled into the jaws of rabbits in an experiment that they call ‘irrelevant’ to humans.

The watchdog, the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS), has been investigating the University of Otago for over a week. The group claims that the University is conducting ‘cruel’ experiments that are ‘irrelevant’ to human health.

"As we investigate the University of Otago, we are finding many clear examples that they are stuck in the past using outdated techniques. The real path to better human health lies in the technologies of the 21st century," said NZAVS Executive Director Tara Jackson in a statement.

In the experiment, sedated rabbits had holes drilled into their jaws to test imaging equipment. However, the researchers themselves acknowledge limited translatability of their results for human situations.

"The results of animal research have limited applicability to human situations," the publication said. [1]

The research goes on to detail ways that the research could be made more relevant to humans. The methods suggested are focused on humans and technological improvements rather than using animal research.

NZAVS says this highlights the problem they are trying to combat.

"This is the problem we find with this research. Scientists conduct an experiment on animals, and then call for more human-centred research to get the issue to apply to humans.

We should just be skipping using animals entirely and focus on human-relevant methods," said Jackson.

"What it comes down to is these researchers had some great ideas for how to make the research human-relevant. But that means investing in human-relevant methods. But to get a funded and published study, often you need to throw in some animal experiments."

"The University of Otago has chosen to invest $50 million in an animal lab. Where’s the investment in human-relevant and human-centred research?"

NZAVS intends to continue exposing the University of Otago and use that exposure to build a public case for change. They will be taking their campaign to the government next year with their Striking at the Source petition. The group says the petition aims to reform scientific research to make it fit for the 21st century by improving funding processes and other issues that determine the strategic direction of science.

[1] Page 6 of the research paper.

Notes for the Editor

Find more experiments conducted by the University of Otago here.

We encourage media outlets to use caution when naming specific researchers. NZAVS is a non-violent organisation and wishes to avoid any issues of threat or harassment targeting researchers.

NZAVS’ goal is to expose the cruelty, not target the researchers.

You can see the University of Otago’s contact page here.

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