Animal Aid has analysed the contents of a paper, published in 2015, which describes giving Ebola to marmosets from the Porton Down colony. The explanation given was that ‘The high infectivity and lethality of [ebola virus] mean they are considered possible biowarfare / bioterrorist agents’ 1. The symptoms displayed by some of the monkeys in one study are terrifying: ‘Overt signs of infection included a hunched posture, unkempt fur, altered respiration, subdued nature, and a reluctance to move, eat or drink. External haemorrhaging from the genitals was observed on 4 animals’.1
Porton Down was founded in 1916 and, more than a century later, it is still conducting terrible experiments on many different species of animals. Animal Aid recently exposed experiments where guinea pigs were exposed to the toxic nerve agent, VX. The animals were then observed and scored according to whether they displayed signs such as ‘writhing’, ‘no meaningful voluntary movement’ and ‘gasping’ 2. It is worth noting that guinea pigs will only breath through their mouths when they are in extreme distress.
We have launched a campaign calling for a ban on warfare experiments on animals, highlighting how in 2017, at Porton Down alone, 3,865 animals were experimented upon. The animals included monkeys, pigs, guinea pigs and mice. Animal Aid is opposed to all animal experiments, but contends that warfare experiments are particularly macabre and morally unconscionable – testing compounds that are known, or even developed, to cause great suffering and death to people.
An Early Day Motion (EDM), in Parliament, which calls for a ban on the use of animals in warfare experiments, was launched in late February. It already has 72 signatures, from MPs across the political spectrum.
Says Jessamy Korotoga, Campaign manager at Animal Aid:
‘It is, quite frankly, chilling that animals are being subjected to experiments which can cause such horrific suffering. Animal Aid is calling for a ban on the use of animals in warfare experiments. No animal should be subjected to such terrifying symptoms and prolonged suffering. Warfare experiments on animals are something from the dark ages, not what should be happening in a progressive and forward-thinking society’.
Notes to Editors
- S.J. et al (2015) ‘Experimental Respiratory Infection of Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) With Ebola Virus Kikwit’, Journal of Infectious Diseases,doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiv371
- Mann, T.M. et al (2017) ‘Bioscavenger is effective as a delayed therapeutic intervention following percutaneous VX poisoning in the guinea-pig’, Toxicology Letters, org/10.1016/j.toxlet.2017.11.029
Read more on warfare experiments and Porton Down’s history