It was only when animal rights groups began to put pressure on airlines and ferry companies to stop transporting laboratory animals that this came to our attention.
Researchers are concerned that research on non-human mammals, as well as studies involving frogs, insects and fish, could be hampered if companies refuse to transport animals which will be used in labs. This, according to scientists, could even disrupt the fruit fly research used to study genetics.
Like many people who do what I do, I’d quite like to become redundant. That is, I’d be content if my current job were made obsolete by advances in science.
In recent days, the issue of research animals transport has once again come to the fore in the UK, with increasingly vocal and heated crossfire between animal-rights activists and scientific researchers being the hallmark of the debate.
At the core of the issue is the increasing refusal, as reported in the Daily Telegraph and elsewhere, of ferry companies and airlines to carry live mice, rats and rabbits intended for scientific research, following pressure from animal-rights campaigners.
Animal testing and research dates back to the writings of the Greeks in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, with Aristotle and Erasistratus among the first to perform experiments on living animals. Avenzoar, an Arabic physician in 12th-century Moorish Spain who practiced dissection, introduced animal testing as an experimental method of testing surgical procedures before applying them to human patients.
Not being an expert in animal research and testing, it’s a foreign concept to me that a vet would be working at an animal research and development facility for a pharmaceutical company. But of course who better to be ensuring the welfare of lab animals? I recently spoke with the global animal welfare officer of a large pharmaceutical company, who has such a job.