University of Nottingham facing new animal rights debate after protest

Protesters made their point on the Ningbo Friendship Bridge over the A52 by the QMC on Wednesday, drawing attention to the 25,000 animals a year tested on by the university. But some criticised the demonstration for its use of the word 'torture'.

The University of Nottingham is facing fresh questions over its record on animal testing after a high-profile protest.

Around 30 people took part in a demonstration on the tram bridge over the A52, between the university and the Queen’s Medical Centre, on Wednesday night (Februray 7).

Protesters held up placards and lights, accusing the university of subjecting animals to unnecessary suffering and even torture.

The university denies the claims, saying it complies with the law and all the research is important to understand health and disease.

And one student of the university said the demonstration was “inflammatory and provocative”.

It is the second time the university has had to defend itself on the issue inside four months, after similar objections were raised in November.

Campaign group Animal Justice Project points to publicly available figures showing more than 25,000 animals are tested on inside University of Nottingham labs each year, including guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters.

Hugh Longman, one of the organisers of Wednesday’s event, said “From a moral perspective, animals are not there for us to experiment on. It’s not our right to do so.

“There are alternatives out there. We don’t have to use animals to move science forward, so we want to make the public aware of what’s going on here”.

Many of the animals and tested on are rats and mice. (File photo)

More than 130 experiments were classified as ‘severe’ at the university last year, involving the highest pain level inflicted on animals according to the Home Office.

A spokesman for the University of Nottingham said: “No animal is subject to unnecessary suffering in our research to better understand health and disease and improve the lives of both animals and humans.”

“All the procedures using animals at the University of Nottingham are regulated by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act 1986 and meet the strict guidelines set out by the Home Office”.

James, a medical student at the university, who did not want to give his full name, disagreed with the protest.

“I think it’s a little bit inflammatory and provocative,” he said.

“A lot of people at the faculty will be vegans and people who care about animal rights. Torture is an emotive word that you associate with unnecessary suffering – animal testing is not about torturing.”

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