Anti vivisection movement rejoices as Hillgrove Farm closes

Posted on the 13th August 1999

Animal Aid is delighted at the news of the closure of Hillgrove Farm and congratulate the Save the Hillgrove Cats campaign, whose tireless efforts produced this success.

Hillgrove Farm were the UK’s largest breeder of cats for vivisection. Every year they supplied over 800 cats to British laboratories alone. Former Hillgrove workers talked of the barren conditions the cats were kept in and the way the breeding females were worked to exhaustion. Internal documents showed that mothers were so distressed that they were killing and eating their own kittens.

The 1999 Animal Aid Mad Science Awards (AAMSA) – given every August for pointless and grotesque research – focused on cat (as well as dog) experiments. One AAMSA winner was the drug company SmithKline Beecham, which used more than 100 cats supplied by Hillgrove Farm for migraine experiments. The anaesthetised cats had tubes inserted into their blood vessels, holes cut in their sculls and electrodes positioned in their brains. An electrical current was applied and various experimental drugs injected.

Such experiments, in Animal Aid’s view, are sickening and worthless. It is useless studying migraine in cats, given that many of the symptoms human sufferers experience are impossible to detect in these animals. How would the researchers know if the cats are experiencing nausea, tunnel vision, numbness or even headache? And how can they know what effect an experimental drug has on such symptoms?

The impression has been given today by the RSPCA – and by Hillgrove repeatedly in the past – that Hillgrove cats are used almost exclusively for veterinary research. These migraine experiments make nonsense of such statements. A substantial proportion of cat experiments in UK labs have nothing to do with veterinary medicine. But it is in any case immoral to abuse healthy animals for whatever purpose.

Some are lamenting the passing of Hillgrove, saying that cats will simply have to be brought in to UK labs – perhaps from overseas – where conditions could be worse. That is no argument to continue with an immoral and vile trade. Campaigners against the laboratory use of cats – and all other animals – will take heart from this victory and shift their focus to whoever seeks to take the place of Hillgrove.

SmithKline Beecham will be the subject of an Animal Aid Award for Mad Science demonstration this coming Monday.

Time: Monday 16 August. 11am
Place: SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, New Frontiers Science Park, Harlow, Essex

Two larger-than-life ‘mutilated Hillgrove cats’ with electrodes implanted into their skulls will be on hand to mark the event and attempt to hand over the AAMSA Diploma. In addition to the presence of the stunningly graphic cat costume, Animal Aid supporters will be protesting outside the company. This is to bring home to the public the horrific nature of the experiments taking place on cats and dogs around the country.

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