Animal Aid

Purple Poppy to Commemorate Animal Victims

Posted 7 November 2007

While millions of animals have lost their lives in humans’ wars, they are rarely mentioned in remembrance ceremonies. National campaign group Animal Aid aims to rectify this and has this week issued a purple poppy to commemorate the animal victims of war.

Animal Aid campaigns against the use of animals in weapons testing, most of which is conducted at The Ministry of Defence facility at Porton Down. At this top-secret laboratory, sheep, goats, pigs, mice, rats, guinea pigs, monkeys, dogs and cats have all been used to test the killing power of biological and chemical weapons and the effectiveness of their antidotes. They have also been subjected to blast attacks and small arms fire. The total number of animals used in weapons testing has increased dramatically in recent years to around 20,000 animals per year.

Historically, animals have been used as messengers, for detection, scouting and rescue, as beasts of burden and on the frontline. In more recent times, scientists have wired electrodes into the brains of rats to harness their keen sense of smell, and the armed forces have trained dolphins and seals to detect both mines and intruders below the waves.

Says Animal Aid Head of Campaigns, Kate Fowler-Reeves:

‘For years we have commemorated the human victims of war and overlooked the impact that worldwide conflicts have had on animals. Now, it’s time to redress the balance. By wearing a purple poppy – alongside the traditional red one – we will finally be acknowledging that millions of animals have been drafted into conflicts not of their making and have lost their lives as a result. Remembering them is the least we can do.’

Notes to Editor

  • Between 2000 and 2005, the number of animals used in experiments at the Ministry of Defence facility in Porton Down doubled from 11,985 to 21,118.
  • Before their election to government, the Labour party produced a leaflet, titled New Life for Animals, which stated: ‘It is Labour policy to forbid the use of animals in the testing and development of weapons.’ It seems that this problem has been sidestepped by the Home Office who now issue licenses to conduct only ‘defensive’ experiments, rather than offensive ones.
  • More information from Kate Fowler-Reeves on 01732 364546 ex 236.
  • Images available on request.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews.

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