Newcastle University (UK) commits to end experiments on wild-caught baboons in Kenya
Humane Research Australia reports that the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) investigation has uncovered the cruel capture and use of wild baboons in Kenya. There was also involvement of researchers from Newcastle University travelling to the country to conduct invasive research using these baboons, and this has resulted in a statement from Newcastle University that it will end its involvement in the controversial research.
The investigation uncovered disturbing evidence of the poor conditions in which wild-caught olive baboons (Papio anubis) are being held at the Institute of Primate Research (IPR), and the terrible fate which awaits them. Legislation in Kenya relating to animal experiments is outdated and hopelessly inadequate. Yet wild baboons, and other primates such as African green monkeys, are captured and held in conditions which compromise their welfare and breach international guidelines, before being subjected to disturbing research.
The baboons were held under conditions which seriously compromised their welfare and breached international guidelines, including those of the European Directive and the International Primatological Society. Some of the baboons were housed on their own in barren metal cages with no enrichment.
The experiments carried out at the IPR by researchers from Newcastle University include invasive brain surgery on baboons in which the individual’s head was placed into a stereotaxic frame and held in place whilst the skull was drilled open and parts of the brain removed. The animals were kept alive under anaesthetic for many hours while tests were carried out before being killed.
The University’s involvement
In the UK, using wild-caught primates in research was effectively banned in 1995, yet researchers from Newcastle University are bypassing UK law and are travelling to Kenya to use wild-caught baboons in disturbing and highly invasive experiments. This is also in blatant breach of recent guidance by UK funding bodies which requires UK researchers to maintain UK welfare standards when carrying out experiments abroad.
While Newcastle University has committed to ending the experiments in Kenya and has stated it is ‘reviewing all our overseas research involving animals’, the BUAV will seek clarification on when the baboon research will end.
‘We welcome this move by Newcastle University to stop this controversial research in Kenya. The BUAV investigation has caused a public outcry; people have been shocked and repulsed by our findings and it is only right that the University should respond in this way. It makes a mockery of UK law if researchers can use public funds to go overseas to carry out horrific research on wild-caught primates that would not be allowed in the UK.’ –BUAV Director of Special Projects, Sarah Kite
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