They are regarded as ‘humane deaths'
In the league table of universities that perform scientific procedures on animals, King’s ranked fifth, with over 170,000 experiments of that kind carried out in 2015.
Mice and zebrafish are the most common species researchers at KCL work with, making up respectively 73 per cent and 23 per cent of all the animals housed at the university. Experiments are also performed on amphibians, guinea pigs, monkeys, rabbits, rats and snakes.
The animals can be used in one of three ways: to be experimented on for scientific procedures, for breeding purposes or tissue only purposes. In any case, all three involve either some sort of suffering or – in the College’s euphemistic terms – ‘humane’ death. Oxford came on top of the list with 226,214 animals tested on, followed closely by Edinburgh (212,695) and UCL (202,554). The fourth position was claimed by Cambridge (181,080).
Other universities within the top 10 included Manchester, Imperial, Glasgow, Birmingham and Nottingham. In 2016, Animal Justice Project launched a campaign against the abuse of animals for scientific purposes at UK universities. Campus without Cruelty aspires to increase the students’ sensitivity to the issue by shedding light on the research practices widespread in the academic environment in Britain.
King’s prides itself on being among the 72 organisations to have signed The Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, on account of which it is obliged to provide information about when, how and why animals are used in research. Despite this policy of openness however, KCL doesn’t go into too much detail with regards to what exactly happens to the animals in the labs, which is what Animal Justice Project lays emphasis on in its campaign.
The Concordat also compels its signatories to actively seek ways to make the public more aware of the experiments it conducts, as well as produce annual reports on the scientific advancements they have contributed to.
Regarding the subject, a spokesperson from King’s said: “King’s College London is one of the largest health research institutions in the UK, carrying out cutting-edge medical and biomedical research across many disciplines.
“Our work involving the use of animals forms a small but essential part of the basis for major research breakthroughs in health and medicine, and represents a fundamental step in the search for new treatments for patients with a range of diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurological conditions, in addition to basic research.
“Animal research at King’s is ethically reviewed and we only use animals where there is no alternative. We are dedicated to high standards of animal welfare at King’s and all of our animals are cared for in accordance with strict Home Office regulations by dedicated professional animal technologists.”
More detailed information about College policy on animal research can be found here.
If you’re interested in the Animal Justice Project, visit their website.