The Oxford English Dictionary defines "vivisection" not only as cutting of live animals, but "an operation of this nature". If this definition is used, it is quite clear, from the govenment's own figures that vivisection does go on in New Zealand. Each year, the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (the branch of MAF responsible for monitoring animal experimentation), publish their annual report, giving details of vivisection experiments that have been going on in New Zealand. One of the reporting requirements is that researchers describe whether the animals underwent "mild", "moderate", "severe", or "very severe" suffering. According to the 2003 Annual Report, 4110 and 11439 animals were subjected to "severe" and "very severe" suffering respectively.
MAF publishes a guideline for vivisectors entitled "animal
use statistics", where all the grades of suffering are described.
According to this guide, "severe suffering" experiments include "recovery
from major surgery without the use of analgesics". "very severe suffering"
includes "conducting major surgery without the use of anaesthesia", as
well as some standard toxicological procedures such as the LD50 test, and
the testing of vaccines where death s the measure of failure to protect.
Examples of "severe" and "very severe" suffering experiments
According to information obtained under the Official Information Act on 4 March 2002, the University of Auckland inflicted "very severe suffering" on mice undergoing tests for cancer treatments. I will be discussing evidence for the uselessness of the tests in evaluating human anti-cancer treatments below. I have also copied out the description of the tests by the Secretary of the University of Auckland Animal Ethics Committee in the links below.
The same information described "severe suffering" work on rabbits by Dr. Simon Malpus and his team, conducting experiments on "central nervous system control over the timing of sympathetic nerve activity". A full description of the experiments are provided in the links below, together with a discussion on their application (or lack of it) for curing or alleviating human disorders.
Other "severe suffering" or "very severe suffering" work, this time on sheep is described in my two recent papers on agricultural animal experimentation. Christian Cook (presently employed by HortResearch) conducted a series of experiments on a huge number of sheep, which involved brain operations, burning their noses, injections of opioids and electric shocks. The author himself was uncertain what application such experiments may have.
Scientists at AgResearch in Wallaceville have been inserting tubes into
the intestines of sheep and then innoculating them with parasites to test
the immune response. Some of these experiments also involve cutting
the intestine into three parts, stitching the two ends together and inseting
parasites through a tube in the middle section.
Bibliography and resources
associated with research on sheep parasite control in New Zealand – a descriptive
My academic paper describing and listing recent agricultural animal experiments and discussing their ethical implications. Published in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16 (2003), 187-207.
harm in agricultural animal experiments in New Zealand
A more recent academic paper by Sean Weaver and myself giving further examples of vivisection experiments, including Christian Cook's "severe suffering" sheep work. To appear this year in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Descriptions and comment on Simon Malpas's work
of "very severe suffering" work on mice at Auckland University
Exact text of a reply to an Official Information Act request by the Secretary of the University of Auckland Animal Ethics Committee on 4 March 2002.
A grass-roots organisation with the aim of stopping vivisection in New Zealand for ethical and scientific reasons.