Animals: War’s hidden victims

Posted on the 24th June 2003

A new report by Animal Aid, entitled Animals: the hidden victims of war, exposes the truth about the myriad ways in which animals are killed, mutilated, abandoned and exploited as a consequence of human warfare.

Coming on the heels of the Iraqi conflict, the pocket-sized report looks back to 3 B.C. and Hannibal’s elephant conscripts, and forward to ‘cyborg’ rats and other species whose every movement will be controlled through electrodes implanted into their brains. Remote controlled rodents are already a reality.

The report is supported by Norman Baker MP. He said

“Animal Aid’s timely report reminds us just how many animals are exploited, suffer and die in order that one set of humans engaged in warfare can gain an advantage over another. I hope that one day the human race will leave behind the use of war, but until it does so, it should agree to try to minimize the impact on animals.”

Since the days of Hannibal’s elephants, a startling variety of animals has been used by troops – as combatants, scouts, messengers, poison gas detectors and draught animals. Species employed include horses, dogs, donkeys, elephants, chickens, pigeons, and cats. More recently, marine mammals have been co-opted, including the sea lions and dolphins used in the last Gulf War for the detection of mines and enemy frogmen. Their punishing training and control regime includes food deprivation.

Animals: the hidden victims of war also reveals that in conflict zones across the globe, native animals are caught in the crossfire, and huge numbers of companion and farmed animals are left to starve or are abandoned as their owners flee for their lives or are killed.

Zoos can become the settings for fierce gun battles – a terrifying experience for the caged inhabitants. As was the case earlier this year in Baghdad, when such battles are over, many of the inmates are stolen or let loose to wander the streets.

Closer to home, thousands of animals every year are ‘sacrificed’ in gruesome experiments at the top secret Ministry of Defence research centre in Porton Down, Wiltshire. Sheep, goats, mice, rats, guinea pigs, monkeys, dogs and cats are among the animals used to test the killing power of biological and chemical weapons and the effectiveness of potential antidotes. They have also been subjected to blast attacks and small arms fire. The tally of Porton Down’s animal victims continues to rise despite overwhelming evidence that the results from such tests cannot be reliably applied to people because of crucial biological differences between species.

Said Animal Aid Campaigns Officer Ajaye Curry:

“Our new report demonstrates the suffering that animals go through because of human warfare. They are blasted, mutilated, poisoned, abandoned and starved. Animals don’t drop bombs, neither do they produce chemical weapons, or killer viruses. Because we do, why should they suffer?”

Notes to Editors

  • For more information, call Andrew Tyler or Ajaye Curry on 01732 364546.
  • Animals: the hidden victims of war will be distributed to the public free of charge by Animal Aid’s army of volunteers throughout the UK. Copies are also available on request from Animal Aid’s Tonbridge head office – or can be downloaded here.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews.

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