Meet X. X is a monkey. He is addicted to drugs and his skull has been battered in and crudely stitched up. His arms and legs show signs of self-mutilation, and clumps of hair are missing — all self-mutilation derived from the trauma of being confined, deprived, tormented and treated like disposable laboratory equipment.
X is just one example of the many animals subjected to experimentation. Because they are animals and have no voice, unlike humans, they are basically caged up against their will and forced to suffer through barbaric experiments. At this moment, sheep and pigs, while alive, are having their skins burned off; rats are having their spinal cords crushed; mice are designed to grow tumors as big as their own bodies; kittens are purposely blinded; ferrets are screaming while hard plastic tubes are shoved down their throats. Apparently, just because they are viewed simply as animals and have no say in what happens to them, society views them as the perfect toys to tinker around with, with no regards to the animals’ emotions, well-being or safety.
Many of these senselessly brutal experiments are funded by the federal government using money from tax dollars and health charities, such as American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes, who should spend money on promising human-based clinical, in vitro and epidemiological research instead of wasting it on irrelevant experiments on animals. According to PETA, in one year, over one million animals — including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and monkeys — are tortured and even killed in experiments (excluding those used for agricultural experiments), and at least 80,000 are subjected to pain without anesthetics. It is hard to produce an exact number on these statistics, because mice, rats, birds and cold-blooded animals are unfortunately not covered by the protections of the Animal Welfare Act and, therefore, they remain uncounted in data, even though they make up more than 95 percent of the animals used in experiments.
Granted, one can argue that it is important for animals to substitute for humans when laboratories are conducting chemical, drug, food and cosmetics testing. However, there are numerous U.S. laboratories today that use animals for medical training, biology lessons and perhaps the worst of all — curiosity-driven experimentation. Why satisfy your own curiosity at the expense of another’s life and misery? It is horrifying how there are some in this world who are completely willing to lock animals in restraint devices for hours, force them to inhale toxic fumes, drill holes into their skulls and conduct more heinous acts.
Sure, it is important today to conduct tests to ensure the safety and efficiency of today’s society, but the public is unaware that in reality, many of the tests that are conducted by corporations that use animals are actually unnecessary and not even required by law because they have the tendency of producing inaccurate or misleading results. Researchers have pointed out that “patients and physicians should remain cautious about extrapolating the finding of prominent animal research to the care of human disease … poor replication of even high-quality animal studies should be expected by those who conduct clinical research.”
And even so, we are in the 21st century, where technology is advancing itself like crazy. Modern alternatives to animal experimentation have already revealed themselves. Pharmagene Laboratories, based in England, has come up with the process of using human tissues and advanced computer technology in assisting with drug development and testing. Some companies opt to use animal tissues, but Pharmagene scientists argue that it is more efficient and safer to work with human tissues. After all, what works on animals may not necessarily work on humans. “If you have information on human genes, what’s the point of going back to animals?” says Pharmagene co-founder Gordon Baxter.
According to former National Cancer Institute Director, Dr. Richard Klausner, scientists have “cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.” Additionally, at least 85 successful HIV/AIDS vaccinations have been administered in nonhuman primates, yet as of 2010, no HIV/AIDS vaccine has proven to be successful when administered on humans.
In addition, it is pathetic that the results of animal experimentation can be so easily skewed and manipulated by researchers. The journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, has stated before that universities commonly exaggerate their findings from animal experimentation and much of the media coverage on such findings tend to omit information so that “the public may be misled about the validity and relevance of the science presented.” Hence, as a result, the public, and even some scientists, remain uneducated about the full impact and ineffectiveness of animal experimentation.
Just because animals don’t look like us human beings does not mean they can’t feel pain. They still have a brain; they still have a nervous system.
Imagine if you were in their place — you sit alone in a metal box. One of your eyes won’t open because of the corrosive substance that was rubbed forcibly into it. Your arm is covered in your own bite marks that you’ve inflicted uncontrollably onto yourself. You are physically and psychologically traumatized. You’ve gone through countless terrifying and painful procedures, and yet, you’re still alive, but you cower in fear and your blood pressure spikes severely. You only know the meaning of pain, loneliness and terror. And any day could be your last.
Josephine Ho is a third-year English major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.