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Sheffield University Faces Backlash As Animal Rights Activists Protest Against Animal Testing

Sheff Against Animal Experiments activists demand an end to animal testing at Sheffield University's open-day protest.

Animal rights activists staged a dramatic protest at the University of Sheffield's open day, demanding an immediate end to animal testing in research. The Sheff Against Animal Experiments group took a bold stand, unfurling a sizable banner proclaiming "End Animal Testing" over the concourse outside the Sheffield Students Union. The move aimed to raise awareness about the ethical concerns surrounding animal testing and urged the institution to embrace modern alternatives.

Johanna Grace, a former Sheffield University PhD student and vocal advocate against animal testing, expressed her dismay, stating, "The social license for animal testing has expired, but Sheffield University still participates in this outdated practice. We have numerous modern alternatives available that do not require sacrificing innocent lives for high failure rates."

During the protest, activists distributed leaflets to open-day attendees, outlining specific experiments allegedly conducted on animals within the university. These experiments reportedly included exposing gerbils to deafening noise, drilling holes into rats' legs injecting cancer cells, and paralyzing mice. The protesters emphasized the need for transparency and ethical accountability in scientific research practices.

Responding to the activists, a spokesperson for the University of Sheffield defended their research practices. "We conduct limited research using animals as part of our efforts to remain at the forefront of medical and scientific advances, leading to lifesaving treatments for people with chronic and degenerative diseases," the spokesperson stated. "Our scientists are actively exploring alternatives to animal research, and we use animals only when no other options are available. We prioritize species of the lowest neuro-physiological sensitivity, such as zebrafish, in our pioneering studies."

Sheffield University disclosed its animal research figures, revealing that approximately 25,045 zebrafish, 20,546 mice, 249 birds, 56 rats, 22 gerbils, and 23 pigs were used in their research. This disclosure further fuelled the activists' concerns about the extent of animal testing at the institution.

In contrast, activists pointed out that Sheffield Hallam University had successfully transitioned away from animal testing, no longer performing experiments on animals. Isabella, a 19-year-old Biomedical student at Sheffield University, expressed her frustration, saying, "It is unacceptable that my university is dragging its heels on this issue, and in some cases, going backward. The recent data shows a quadrupling in the number of pigs being tested. These intelligent and sensitive beings do not deserve to be subjected to such cruelty."

The protest has sparked a renewed debate within the academic community about the ethical implications of animal testing. As the dialogue continues, activists are calling for increased transparency, more stringent regulations, and a greater emphasis on alternative methods that do not involve animal experimentation.

The University of Sheffield, keenly aware of the concerns raised by the activists and the wider public, has invited interested parties to explore their official stance on animal research. Detailed information about the university’s policies and practices in this regard can be found on their website.

Image Credited: Photo courtesy of SAAE

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