In Australia and New Zealand we use over six million animals a year in research and teaching.
Many of these animals are subjected to pain and stress during both the experimental procedure, and as a result of the environment in which they are kept in.
Animal are still widely used at all levels of secondary and tertiary education. Many of this teaching is not directed towards veterinary practice nor human clinical procedures, many of the students who are required to use animals in practical classes will never have a career involving the use of animals.
In Universities and institutions countrywide, hundreds of non-human primates are experimented on every year. Most of these primates are supplied by three primate breeding facilities, but they are also `supplemented’ by the importation of animals from overseas countries. Many of these countries have plummeting wildlife populations due to poaching and habitat destruction, to the point where many species are now critically endangered.
Animals in teaching
By using alternative teaching aids to the use of animals, secondary schools can meet the same or more useful educational objectives.
At the tertiary level, in relation to the teaching of veterinary and animal science courses, when actual interaction with animals would be of great benefit, then again non-animal alternatives would be the favoured option. If not available, then study and practical work on abattoir materials and models, as well as assistance with genuine clinical cases would be the preferred way to gain knowledge and skills.
Animals in product testing
A lack of funding, resistance and reluctance to embrace new methodologies are all reasons why alternatives are not used. But this use of alternatives is crucial to phasing out the use of animals in research and teaching
In countries that the use of animals is prohibited, alternatives to product testing have occurred rapidly and effectively. Many alternatives to animals have already been developed, such as techniques using cell cultures or computer programs. Sometimes the experimental aim will be changed completely, and an animal based experiment will be replaced with a clinical experiment involving humans.
What you can do to help
As a consumer:
Avoid cosmetics and toiletries that have been tested on animals, or have animal-based ingredients. Take a look at Choose Cruelty Free List. (http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au)
Sign the Animals Australia pledge (http://animalsaustralia.org/take_action/pledge/animal-testing/ ) not to buy products tested on animals, and encourage your friends and family to take the pledge too!
Encourage Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Colgate/Palmolive to stop testing on animals.
Ensure that your donations don’t go to charities that support the use of animals in research. See the list of charities (http://www.humanecharities.org.au/list.php ) which have adopted a `no animal testing’ policy.
As a student:
Encourage your teacher/institution to use non-animal alternatives in their teaching. Advise them that you will not take part in the use of animals in classes.
As a community member: educate yourself about the ethical and scientific aspects of animal use in research and teaching, and then ensure you let our elected leaders know of your views. For further information on these issues visit Humane Research Australia.
Interniche – Organisation encouraging humane education techniques, includes some great resources.
http://www.humaneresearch.org.au Humane Research Australia
Animal Experimentation Fact Sheet