In 2014, Ryan Moore adopted three 8-week-old bunnies from the Freedom + Rescue Project, a nonprofit organization that rescues animals from laboratories once they were done being experimented on. One of the bunnies died just after a month later, and another one after two to three years. Four years later, Moore noticed that his third rabbit, Marilyn, was eating less and had slight wetness around her eyes and nose, all symptoms of a sick bunny. He took her to the vet, but the veterinarian believed Marilyn was fine and gave her an antibiotic. Just after a few days, Moore woke up to the sound of Marilyn screaming; she was hopping around unbalanced and was out of breath. Moore helplessly watched as Marilyn died a painful and violent death. Well-looked-after bunnies typically live up to ten years. Moore said, “I don’t know for certain if Marilyn’s death at 4 years old was a result of the experiments performed on her, but the other two rabbits I adopted were from the same batch from the same lab … I now know that the other two died the same horrific death because I found them in identical circumstances to Marilyn” (Moore). Not only did Moore adopt bunnies from the Freedom + Rescue Project, but he also adopted Bowie, a cat, back in 2013. He was a few months old when he left the lab and had a huge incision on his back. According to Moore, although Bowie is good with other animals and somewhat affectionate with his owner, he is terrified of other people; he hides for hours whenever Moore has guests over and doesn’t allow anyone to restrain him in any way (Moore). Whether someone agrees with animal testing or not, it is not debatable that animal testing poses great trauma and fear for vulnerable animals who are forced to suffer in these labs, as seen with Marilyn and Bowie.
Animal testing can date back to 500 BC when people performed a practice called vivisection, the dissection of live animals for the purpose of scientific research. Physicians like Aristotle, Herophilus, and Erasistratus performed vivisection in order to learn more about how living organisms functioned. In places like Rome and Alexandria, vivisection was mostly practiced on human criminals. However, because mutilation of the human body was prohibited in Greece, they relied on animals to obtain more knowledge. Aristotle argued that animals lacked intelligence, so the notions of justice and injustice did not apply to them. Later on in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, French philosopher Rene Descrates believed that animals were “automata”; he came to the conclusion that animals could actually feel like humans do, but because they were unable to think, they weren’t conscious of those feelings. On the other hand, Theophrastus, a successor to Aristotle, objected to vivisections of animals because they too could feel pain like humans did, which was an affront to the gods (“Background of the Issue”). These two schools of thinking continue to become an argument amongst those on the opposite sides of the spectrum.
Today, labs who continue to use animals for research come under severe critisizm from animal protection groups such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Some countries have already passed laws that make animal testing more humane or ban it altogether. However, the debate on the ethic still continue. Those who are against testing on animals believe that the benefits to humans do not justify the harm to animals. There are also those on the opposite side of the spectrum who argue that animals are inferior to humans and that animal experimentation is vital to advance medical knowledge (Hajar). Although testing on animals can be benefiting to humans to some extent, the pain and suffering lab animals face does not justify the unethical methods scientists practice today; scientist should adopt to more modern alternatives which give more insightful results like replicating organs on chips that react to chemicals the same way an actual organ would.
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