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Use of baboons and other primates in Australian medical research


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#1 Paddlepop

Posted 26 February 2020 - 11:59 PM

The recent escape and recapture of three baboons at Sydney's RPA Hospital has brought to public attention that Australia uses primates and other animals for medical research.
https://www.theguard...scape-questions

An older article about the use of baboons in Sydney:
https://www.smh.com....120-gm9wa8.html

How do EBers feel about the use of animals, and in particular primates, for medical research? Do you think it should be stopped? Do you think it's unavoidably necessary for some research? Should primates no longer be used but other animals like rats, ferrets and pigs are okay to be used? Should no animals at all be used ever again in any medical research?

#2 Lou-bags

Posted 27 February 2020 - 12:50 AM

Unavoidably necessary for some research.

#3 EsmeLennox

Posted 27 February 2020 - 12:55 AM

I think it’s really a difficult conundrum and for me it depends on what the research is.

#4 NWO

Posted 27 February 2020 - 01:05 AM

It is unfortunately necessary .... imo ** testing should be done on people in prison who have committed a crime of a certain level*
Would be much more accurate, cost effective, reduce time to market, make good use of a resource no longer contributing to society etc etc .... and leave the poor baboons alone!

* undetermined at this point. -

** hypothetical based on if I was running the show.

#5 Expelliarmus

Posted 27 February 2020 - 01:10 AM

I don't think we should use any animals but given I know so little about medical research I don't know if that's viable - but I wish it was. It's an ethical quandary to stop I think, knowing how many people are needing cures for things etc. I want to say a blanket know but don't think I have the guts to do it.

#6 MooGuru

Posted 27 February 2020 - 02:50 AM

It's something I struggle with ethically but I know it's necessary in some situations.

I do think the animals should be looked after in the best possible way and I hope there are significant protections in place.

Edited for privacy

Edited by MooGuru, 27 February 2020 - 03:05 AM.


#7 Amica

Posted 27 February 2020 - 03:07 AM

We ONLY have open heart surgery thanks to years and years of trial and error on dogs developing and perfecting the heart lung machine. It never would have been ethically possible to do this using humans. We wouldn't be where we are today. Coronary artery bypass, heart transplants, congenital defect corrections and more would not be a thing. Given I have my child thanks to a heart lung machine, I'd be hypocritical to then turn around and deny someone else their future child or loved one because I wanted to save a few purposefully bred animals, and medical advances were halted. Especially when I am quite happy to eat and wear purposfully bred animals.

In saying that, several rats died just so I and others could use their ileum in a uni prac. Both then and now I strongly felt that the learning outcomes could have been met without this happening. In the least, one rat could have been sacrificed for the whole class and we take turns watching, rather than splitting into groups of 4 and 10 rats being euthanised.

#8 WaitForMe

Posted 27 February 2020 - 05:36 AM

For me it depends on the research and how they are treated.

I eat animals so its otherwise hypocritical of me. I wouldn't be surprised if those baboons are treated better and have longer more fulfilling lives than many of the animals I eat.

Having said that though, I am moving towards a vegan diet. I'm doing it slowly because the rest of my family aren't entirely on board. It was originally for health but as I'm following various vegan food hashtags on instagram, I get some animal welfare posts too, and its becoming a part of why I want to be vegan too.

#9 born.a.girl

Posted 27 February 2020 - 05:48 AM

It's interesting that it's taken the escapees to highlight this issue.   It's been plastered all around the news about the Covid-19 vaccine being ready for trials on animals in various places and none of us have piped up about it.

I don't mean that in any sort of narky way because I include myself in it.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Human trials on the vaccine won't happen until animal trials have been done. That will involve deliberately infecting the animals after some have been immunised and others not.  I'm guessing they won't be romping around in the greenery that was shown on TV, they'll presumably be indoors in cages in controlled conditions, as would be necessary.

The human guinea pigs will at least have volunteered themselves, and spend the rest of their lives like the rest of us.

Like a pp, I eat meat, and I know that even if I only buy free range chicken, the end of their lives is no less terrifying than for cage bred chicken.  Dairy is a harsh industry for animals, even if the milking cows spend much of their time contentedly, their boy calves don't.

I'm conflicted.

#10 Jersey Caramel

Posted 27 February 2020 - 06:01 AM

The legal protections and governance over animals used in research in Australia are some of the strongest in the world.  Far stronger than those for animals in the food,  racing etc industries.  I think we should always be working towards reduction/replacement of use of animals,  but at the moment if we want safe new vaccines,  medications,  transplants then we need to accept that animals are a vital part of that.

The other problem with trying to shut down any animal research facilities in Australia is that the research will then just go offshore - often to places lie China which have absolutely no protections that the animals will be treated humanely.

#11 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 27 February 2020 - 06:24 AM

the Four Corners show on Monday night about the covid-19 outbreak had CSIRO scientists on explaining the process for isolating the virus in a lab, and then proceeding to make a vaccine - and yes, animals are involved. they are apparently using ferrets, as ferrets *apparently* have a similar respiratory system to humans, so, at the very minimum, they are injecting the virus into the ferrets and observing how it (the virus) behaves. not nice, but IMV there’s a greater good here: developing a vaccine. the ends justifies the means, in this instance.


#12 zenkitty

Posted 27 February 2020 - 06:45 AM

I feel medical animal testing is more justifiable than using animals for food, sport, entertainment, etc. It is using, and killing, them for human benefit, but the benefit is far greater than so many other ways we torture animals.

#13 No Drama Please

Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:16 AM

If we’re not able to use them for medical research we shouldn’t be able to raise them for food either, or horse racing, circuses, petting zoos, or pretty much anything apart from conservation to keep the species alive.

Even keeping them as pets could be looked at as questionable; breeding dogs with breathing problems or other medical conditions because the physical look is appealing, being able to buy them, take them home for entertainment, have them outside their natural environment alone all day away from other members of their species.

Personally I eat meat and have benefited from medical research, I’ve been to zoos, owned pets etc, but is any of it really ethical if you look at it from a who is benefiting from the experience, the animal or the human? It’s uneasy if you really think about it.

#14 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:21 AM

I am so conflicted. I'm not sure I can deliver anti cancer drugs and also get my activism on about animal testing, because chemo needs to be tested on animals before it goes to human trials. But so many people rely on these drugs.

If you want to get reaaaallly deep and ethical and go down the ethics rabbithole, open the can of worms that is the arrogance (although that's probably not the right word) of humans valuing themselves more highly as a species because we have complex language and have evolved to a very intricate and complex society,therefore animals are expendable but humans aren't... It's one of those conundrums that we probably can't solve. Maybe one day, animals will evolve and overthrow us ala planet of the apes...

They are working towards utilizing other methods of testing for drugs in medicine, which use fewer animals. I'm not sure how they are going about it, but have skim read that it's what the medical testing world is working towards. But I can't imagine how they would ever fully eliminate animal testing.

#15 Jersey Caramel

Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:27 AM

The pet thing is interesting PP...it is definitely luck of the draw for pets whether they have a good life or not.

For research animals,  environmental enrichment is a compulsory consideration for ethics committees when they are deciding whether or not to approve studies or not,  and there are whole conferences/books/ journals devoted to it - i.e. developing activities and environments that allow them to express normal behaviour, avoid boredom,  minimise stress,  stay fit, have social needs met etc.

But plenty of people have dogs who spend all day alone in a backyard,  pining and stressing. Even pet animals who are "spoilt" with a seemingly good life are often showing quite bad stress behaviors once you know what to look for, and are not having their social or behavioural needs met.

#16 jayskette

Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:39 AM

this is happening because no humans want to be tested.
in some countries and time periods, less desirable humans were used, eg poor, ethnic minorities.
maybe we should adopt USA methods and pay for humans to be experimented, and more given to categories medical experiments desperately need eg kids, pregnant women...

#17 TrixieBelden

Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:48 AM

The primates really really bother me.

However I have done courses learning how to do very high risk procedures on anaesthetised animals that were later euthanased. I accepted this as the only way for me to practice those procedures before a person’s life depended on me getting it right. With regard to one procedure, you cannot become qualified to perform it without performing it on an animal. The procedure is life-saving.

I have been a vegetarian since my early teens - so 25 years - do not wear leather, do not support zoos or animal circuses, do not support horse racing. I found it odd that some of my peers who eat animals cheerfully were very distressed and would not perform a procedure on an anaesthetised animals.

#18 SallyJay

Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:49 AM

A very close friend works in that facility at RPA and she said to me last night that the animals are exceptionally well cared for and that they receive the same pain relief etc post-op that a human would get.
As a vegan I find it very distressing that animals are being used like this but it is pretty necessary at this stage. I guess if they are happy and well cared for and kept in suitable accomodation etc I can accept it.

#19 Jersey Caramel

Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:52 AM

View PostCaitlin Happymeal, on 27 February 2020 - 07:21 AM, said:


If you want to get reaaaallly deep and ethical and go down the ethics rabbithole, open the can of worms that is the arrogance (although that's probably not the right word) of humans valuing themselves more highly as a species because we have complex language and have evolved to a very intricate and complex society,therefore animals are expendable but humans aren't... It's one of those conundrums that we probably can't solve. Maybe one day, animals will evolve and overthrow us ala planet of the apes

Yes and it gets even more complicated when you think not just of our direct use of animals,  but of all the things we do that indirectly impact them.  E.g. land clearing for food production/housing/highways, spraying our gardens with pesticides,  backburning to protect towns, driving cars (estimated up to 10 million animals die per year as roadkill in Australia!!). :(

#20 kadoodle

Posted 27 February 2020 - 08:01 AM

I feel really uncomfortable about it, but I’d be dead if it wasn’t for medicine that was originally tested on animals. A necessary evil, I suppose.

#21 Soontobegran

Posted 27 February 2020 - 08:13 AM

Unavoidable.
Anyone of us with complicated medical issues who are surviving can usually thank some level of animal research. I take comfort it is done humanely, that is the only way I can cope with the thought.

We have two choices and although I'd love an enclosure of paedophiles, murderers, rapists and wife and children bashers from which we could choose a speciman I can't see it happening.

Edited by Soontobegran, 27 February 2020 - 08:13 AM.


#22 MissHLH

Posted 27 February 2020 - 08:47 AM

Absolutely necessary.  And governed to a very high standard to ensure that research is humane and necessary, as well as using the fewest number of animals possible.

If you are concerned, or interested, and haven’t been involved in animal-based research, you could volunteer to sit on your local university/hospital/research institute’s ethics committee.  At least one member of an ethics committee is a person with demonstrated commitment to animal welfare, who hasn’t been involved in animal research, and at least one member is a person who isn’t a vet, an animal researcher, or a person with demonstrated commitment to animal welfare.

#23 wallofdodo

Posted 27 February 2020 - 10:25 AM

View PostLucrezia Bauble, on 27 February 2020 - 06:24 AM, said:

the Four Corners show on Monday night about the covid-19 outbreak had CSIRO scientists on explaining the process for isolating the virus in a lab, and then proceeding to make a vaccine - and yes, animals are involved. they are apparently using ferrets, as ferrets *apparently* have a similar respiratory system to humans, so, at the very minimum, they are injecting the virus into the ferrets and observing how it (the virus) behaves. not nice, but IMV there’s a greater good here: developing a vaccine. the ends justifies the means, in this instance.

Yes, I noted that as well, and felt a bit uncomfortable.

#24 born.a.girl

Posted 27 February 2020 - 10:51 AM

View PostTrixieBelden, on 27 February 2020 - 07:48 AM, said:

The primates really really bother me.

However I have done courses learning how to do very high risk procedures on anaesthetised animals that were later euthanased. I accepted this as the only way for me to practice those procedures before a person’s life depended on me getting it right. With regard to one procedure, you cannot become qualified to perform it without performing it on an animal. The procedure is life-saving.

I have been a vegetarian since my early teens - so 25 years - do not wear leather, do not support zoos or animal circuses, do not support horse racing. I found it odd that some of my peers who eat animals cheerfully were very distressed and would not perform a procedure on an anaesthetised animals.


I'm actually not in the least bit surprised.   Most of us who eat meat but are a bit uncomfortable with it can be very much 'out of sight out of mind', so when confronted with the evidence of exactly the extent to which we 'use' animals in our lives, are very uncomfortable.

I've always found it a bit ironic that we're horrified (me included) about South Korea's use of farmed dogs for meat, and recoil at the sight of them packed into crates heading for slaughter, yet have trucks of sentient animals passing us on the road here all the time.

I must admit every time a human does something really stupid (like knowingly go swimming in crocodile habitat) and get taken  I think we'll that's one the other way.

#25 lizzzard

Posted 27 February 2020 - 11:15 AM

I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years but I don’t have an issue with the use of primates for medical testing in Australia. Call me naive but my reasoning is that many experienced and thoughtful people work in fields related to animal-based research and will have considered (and will continue to consider) many more angles on the issue than I can hope to with a few minutes, hours or even days of my thought. Basically I could have an opinion that makes me feel concerned but I doubt it would be well founded (totally personal position - others probably put more effort into becoming  informed than I do).




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