What is vivisection?

Vivisection is surgery conducted for experimental purposes on living creatures, typically animals with a central nervous system. This is cruel, inhumane and unnecessary. Animals are so different to human beings that research on them often yields irrelevant results. Most studies are curiosity-driven and have no tangible benefit for humans.

Animal experimentation leads to the death of millions of animals a year and can involve drugging, burning, shocking, addicting, shooting, freezing, infecting and surgically mutilating live animals, sometimes without pain relief. In 2018, more than 3.52 million procedures were carried out on animals inside British laboratories.

Why is this wrong?

Every year millions of cats, dogs, monkeys, pigs, rabbits, mice, rats and other rodents are incarcerated, subjected to untold torture and finally killed, all for meaningless data. A formula for making animal-derived research relevant to human health is non-existent. Animal research has not, cannot and will not save human lives because information cannot be extrapolated from one species to another.

The use of animals for scientific purposes has been debated for centuries, pitting the pursuit of knowledge and human health against compassion for animals. Society has allowed this because people have been convinced that it is a “necessary evil” and the only way to find cures for human diseases and to make drugs, cosmetics and other products safe. Secrecy and security have ensured that people are unaware of what happens behind the laboratory doors and they are falsely led to believe that the laws intended to prohibit cruelty to animals include protection for animals used in research. They do not.

Over the past few years, researchers have repeatedly shown that many animal studies lack scientific rigour; they are often prone to biases, for instance, and are sloppily reported in scientific journals. In 2018, scientists cite hundreds of biomedical studies from journals including Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Medical Association to show animal modelling is ineffective, misleading to scientists, unable to prevent the development of dangerous drugs, and prone to prevent the development of useful drugs. Legislation still requires animal testing prior to human testing even though the pharmaceutical sector has better options that were unavailable when animal modelling was first mandated [32]. The legislation-mandated reliance on animal test results in early stages of the drug development process leads to a mere 10 percent success rate for new drugs entering human clinical trials.

However, even if animal experiments DID work, Animal Justice Project opposes them on moral grounds.

With half of all UK experiments taking place on university campuses, we have the power to end this. You can be their LIFELINE. Choose compassion. Choose cruelty-free.

“I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t. The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.” — Mark Twain

Animals are here with us. Not for us.

Each of us have a personality and a desire to live. In the laboratory animals are vulnerable, their pain and suffering is in the hands of the researchers. Animal research doesn’t save lives. It takes them.

The truth about animal research is far more horrific and brutal than people imagine. The secrecy surrounding it is there to keep you in the dark.


Rats, mice, hamsters and guinea pigs are rodents who are experimented on in large numbers.

Mice are the most exploited. They are often genetically bred and they are almost identical to each other in appearance. Over two million mice were experimented on in 2018, in the UK alone.


Beagles are commonly used in experiments because they are loyal and trusting. They allow scientists to do whatever they like with them and they still remain loyal.

Dogs are often genetically modified to have diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.


Humans are primates, however unlike other primates we are not held captive and forced to endure horrific experiments. Macaques are the most commonly used primates in experiments, although other species such as chimpanzees are also used in some parts of the world. Chimpanzee use in UK experiments is now banned, but other non-human primates are still tested on.


Rabbits are highly intelligent and social animals yet in laboratories, they live in isolation inside cages.

In 2018, over 11,000 rabbit experiments took place. Hundreds of these experiments carried out on rabbits were categorised as severe.

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Mice are extremely social animals. They are intelligent and they can suffer and feel pain just as humans do. In the months of January to March 2018, Kings College London experimented on 25,049 mice, 1,406 rats and 23 guinea pigs. The University of Oxford experimented on 229,000 mice in 2017. In a single month – March 2018 – Kings College London experimented on 8,000 mice.

Experiments classed as ‘severe’, i.e. experiments that cause a major departure from the animal’s usual state of health and well-being were performed on 78,478 mice in 2017. Death is an end result of ‘severe’ experiments. This includes experiments such as tests for Botox and vaccines as well as tests for chemical safety. They are part of the Lethal Dose 50 test in which 50% of the animals die or are killed when close to death. Tens of thousands of mice are subjected to experiments that test the strength of Botox. The Botox is injected directly into the abdomens of the mice. They are observed over a period of 3 days to see how many mice die of poisoning.

During an investigation into Imperial College London in 2012, rats and mice were subjected to surgical mutilation, double kidney transplants and major organ damage. It is not unusual to find animals with bleeding or weeping wounds, hypothermia and weight loss of up to 40% of their natural body weight.

It is standard practice to kill these animals using carbon dioxide poisoning, breaking their necks, or beheading them – sometimes while still alive – using a guillotine.

1,008,000 experiments, or 56% of the research conducted that involves animals is not testing drugs or other chemicals, but involves basic research, i.e. the study of biological functions and diseases and breeding genetically modified mice. This type of research is curiosity-driven meaning that it does not have to provide any direct benefit to humans.

In 2017, 22,560 experiments were carried out on guinea pigs and 2,009 experiments caused guinea pigs 'severe' suffering.

Of the experiments carried out on rats, 62% of them were classified as for regulatory testing. 3,134 rats were subjected to experiments that were severe.

DMD is a rare genetic mutation whose symptoms include muscle weakness, difficulties in walking, swallowing and breathing. Human patients usually die before the age of 30. The affected dogs undergo a range of tests such as blood sampling, biopsies and brain scans. After some time, they are injected with a variety of drugs, stem cells or genes with the aim of finding a cure.

4,481 experiments were carried out on dogs in 2018 - a 16% increase from 2017.

Beagles, Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherd dogs are caused immense pain in the name of finding more effective treatments for osteoarthritis in humans. The healthy dogs are anaesthetised and one of their limbs is flexed. A large weight of approximately 2 kilograms is then dropped onto the limb. This is a single traumatic event, whereas osteoarthritis in humans occurs gradually and causes a progressive change in tissue.

Dogs are housed in small cages with no bedding or enrichment and they are often not allowed to go outside or to socialise. Dogs are commonly used in toxicity tests where they are injected with, or force-fed pesticides, weed killer and drugs.

Macaques are caring and perceptive by nature. They live in hierarchical social groups and are excellent parents. In the wild, they enjoy swinging through trees, swimming and foraging.

Primates used in experiments are kept in small cages where they experience isolation, anxiety, depression, frustration and hopelessness. They are not allowed to socialise or engage in natural behaviours such as grooming each other.

In 2018, 3,207 experiments were carried out on primates, an increase from 2,960 from 2017. 85% of these primates were imported from outside of the EU.

Neuroscience is an area that is notorious for exploiting and harming primates with the aim of exploring and finding treatments for neurological and behavioural disorders. The primates have electrodes surgically placed into their skulls and bodies. They are sometimes deprived of food and water, and in other instances, they are held inside plastic boxes while loud noises are blasted in. These experiments mostly take place in UK universities. Primates are also used in so-called medical research including HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease. The primates sometimes have parts of their brains purposely damaged surgically to cause paralysis or depression.

In addition to these extremely invasive experiments, primates are subjected to long term toxicity tests. These experiments involve restraining the primates and injecting substances, forcing them to breathe substances in, or by forcing tubes into the primates’ stomachs and pouring substances in. These experiments result in awful side effects being experienced by the primates, such as vomiting, fever, weight loss, respiratory distress, lethargy, internal bleeding, skin problems, organ failure, and death.

In 2018, 11,159 experiments were carried out on rabbits in the UK including 638 pyrogenicity (fever) experiments, a test which has a valid non-animal method available.

At Porton Down laboratories, battlefield wounds are inflicted on rabbits. A total of 38 rabbits were used. They were first given oxygen and then anaesthetized via their ears. The rabbits then had their hind legs hit with blasts of compressed air. Each hind leg endured five blasts. After the injuries had been inflicted, all of the rabbits were given an overdose of pentobarbitone and then post-postmortems were conducted.

In 2016, 52 juvenile rabbits were experimented on at Porton Down laboratories. Over a period of 35 days, they were housed in steel cages and studied. The rabbits’ fur was shorn off and two injection sites on their necks were located. Each of the 52 rabbits received 2 injections of smallpox. The rabbits were studied, suffering and in pain, over a period of 10, 21 and 35 days. At the end of each time period, a number of rabbits were given an overdose of pentobarbitone and necropsies were performed.

Rabbits are also used in toxicity and cosmetics experiments which involve them being restrained in metal boxes and held still by their necks. Over 10,000 rabbits were subjected to cruel skin and eye corrosion experiments in 2017.