Social change always takes much longer than we would like, and having so many vested interests against us, it sometimes seems as though we are making very little progress in the fight against animal experiments. We have therefore compiled a list of HRA’s major accomplishments over the past few years. The list is of course not exhaustive, and does not include the submissions written, media releases, letters to newspapers, expos attended and presentations given (all part of our day to day work), but it does give some indication of our achievements to date.
Humane Research Australia uncovered a string of cases in which 78 greyhounds, believed to be discarded by the racing industry, have been used in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia for dental, kidney and heart experiments.
The revelations came after the greyhound racing industry in New South Wales was temporarily shut down following footage showing industry participants were involved in live baiting, mass killings and burials of unwanted dogs.
Several case studies were published on our website and were subject to international media attention and an online petition was launched via Change.org. We continue to seek and uncover more greyhound experiments around Australia.
Cosmetics Animal Testing
On June 3rd 2016 the Federal Government pledged to ban cosmetics cruelty in Australia by July 2017, following a 4 year campaign by #BeCrueltyFree Australia, led by Humane Research Australia and Humane Society International (Global). Humane Research Australia, as part of the #BeCrueltyFree Australia campaign, joined Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt and Member for La Trobe Jason Wood as they announced that the Coalition Government would ban the testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals within Australia as well as the sale of cosmetic products and ingredients that have been tested on animals outside of Australia.
The announcement received widespread national and international media coverage. Channel 7's news story can be viewed here, and Channel's 9's coverage viewed here. HRA's media release can be viewed here.
The majority of our work thus far in 2016 has been in furtherance of our campaign to ban primate experiments.
In February we provided evidence at the senate hearing on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Prohibition of Live Imports of Primates for Research) Bill 2015 in Canberra. Whilst the senate advised against banning primate imports, the bill resulted in much international exposure about the use of primates in research and researchers opening up about their work with primates.
Through anonymous tip-offs and Freedom of Information requests we have uncovered details that the research industry has fought hard to conceal - despite much of it being funded with your tax dollars. We disclosed details of:
(Unfortunately, despite GIPA applications and questions in Parliament we have not been able to ascertain the fate of Scar, Frazer and Belvedere).
In December, the campaign was taken to Melbourne train commuters as display ads - similar to our billboard the previous year - were seen across the Melbourne metro network.
Our listing of case studies grew substantially with the addition of details of experiments on primates, dogs, cats, mice and sheep. These accounts are provided to demonstrate that experiments occurring behind lab doors are not some exaggerated claims from yesteryear. They are happening right here and now.
Launch of Ban Primate Experiments campaign.
After much background research and preparation we launched our campaign Ban Primate Experiments. Few people are aware that primates are used in experiments in Australia and our first priority is to raise public awareness so that we may then call for change.
The campaign has its own website, coincides with an online petition, postcard distribution, crowd funding and is supported by international primate experts.
We are particularly honored to have the support of Dr Jane Goodall.
A highlight of the campaign was the production of a billboard on busy Punt Road, Richmond Victoria, to coincide with football finals and therefore receiving much attention from sports crowds, traffic and train commuters. It also attracted much media attention including interviews on The Project and the Weekend Today Show - all raising awareness of the use of primates in research. The billboard was made possible through HRA members and supporters.
We are always striving to provide up to date information to our members and supporters and have therefore added extra resources to our website, including an overview of Australian legislation regarding animal research and a large library of academic papers.
Jazzy Guinea Pig speaks out against cosmetics testing
As part of our collaborative work with Humane Society International on the Be Cruetly Free campaign, we introduced Jazzy - a new animation (based on our earlier version of Henry – created by Matt Bottos of Hyperchromatics) to speak out against cosmetics testing on animals.
Adalita promotes the Humane Charities List
Celebrity supporter Adalita kindly lent her support to our Humane Charities List. The graphic was shared widely across social media.
Published national statistics and provided the faces
National statistics on animal use were collated and published (as we do each year) however this year we introduced some of the faces behind those statistics – showing that every “statistic” is indeed a sentient individual and not a mere tool for research.
See an overview here.
Rehoming of ex-lab animals
HRA is honoured to be associated with Beagle Freedom Australia a network of groups and individuals who offer rehabilitation and sanctuary to ex-laboratory animals. This year we have taken advantage of a requirement in the new code of practice which states "Opportunities to rehome animals should be considered wherever possible.” We invite people to express their interest in providing a home for these animals and we then provide their details to Beagle Freedom Australia for when rehoming opportunities arise.
Cochlear expose of cat experiments
Upon receipt of information from an anonymous source, and in collaboration with the late Sam de Brito, HRA was able to expose Cochlear Ltd’s use of cats in cruel eye and ear experiments. The expose caused much interest in the media and HRA conducted several interviews.
We also engaged in discussion with ethical investment companies about their involvement with the company and had a representative attend their Annual General Meeting to raise questions about the use of cats in research.
Primate imports Bill re-introduced
Following on from our campaign to ban the importation of primates for research, in November 2015, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon re-presented a to the Senate, originally introduced in November 2012,on our behalf. The bill has been referred to inquiry by the Senate Environment and Communications Committee.
We ended the year highlighting the use of dogs in Australian research – mainly beagles and greyhounds (considered excess from the racing industry). Of much interest to the public was the use of greyhounds by Melbourne Dental School. The Age featured the story both in print and online, and our latest bulletin highlighted several examples of how dogs are used in various types of research.
Publication of “Leo escapes from the lab”
Leo is an ex-laboratory cat who now serves as an ambassador to the millions of animals used in research every year. He has become somewhat of a ‘celebricat’ with his own Facebook page and an adoring fan base that grows day by day.
With the assistance of some amazingly talented volunteers, we have created "Leo escapes from the lab” – a children’s (true) storybook that is now available via Amazon.
The wonderful illustrations that have been designed for this book truly capture the essence of Leo, his little sidekick Alfie, his big brother Rocky and the human characters he has met along his journey.
It is hoped that Leo’s story will provide children with an understanding of how wrong animal experimentation is, and serve to influence future generations of researchers, donors and philanthropists
All profits raised from the sale of the books goes toward HRA's work to end animal experiments.
Animal experiments - debunking the myths
To assist people's understanding of a perceived complex issue, Humane Research Australia broadcast of a six-part series about the use of animals in research, featuring Dr Andrew Knight, DipECAWBM (WSEL), PhD, MRCVS, FOCAE and based on his critically-acclaimed book The costs and benefits of animal experiments.
The six part series consists of:
This information, suitable for schools, community groups and anyone who has an interest in animals, provides a professional rationale against the use of animals in research and is recommended viewing for anyone interested in ending the use of animals in research.
A message from Henry
Thanks to a generous and talented supporter (Matt Bottos at Hyperchromatics), the animated Henry* Rabbit was created to relay the important message of animal testing to a younger audience, via You Tube. (*Named after Henry Spira - considered one of the most effective animal advocates of the 20th century after challenging Revlon over their use of rabbits in cosmetics testing.)
WC9 – 9th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences.
Conducted tri-annually, this year’s world congress was held in Prague, Czech Republic and, was attended by a number of Australian delegates, including staff from Humane Research Australia (thanks to subsidies from Humane Society International and Anti Vivisection Union South Australia). The Congress covered a wide spectrum of issues including toxicology, ethics, primate use, retrospective analysis and non-technical summaries, journal reporting, cost/benefit analysis, regulation and acceptance of alternatives. Proceedings can be accessed here. The congress not only provided a valuable insight into the progress of alternative methods on an international level, but more importantly it provided an opportunity to network with world leaders in this area.
Pro Bono Billboards
As a not for profit organisation that does not have the resources to even contemplate extravagant advertising campaigns, we have been incredibly fortunate to have received the support of Octopus Media by way of donated advertising space on electronic billboards on prominent roads and intersections in Melbourne. This exposure – valued at $150,000 in total so far – is not something we could otherwise afford and so we’re immensely grateful to Octopus Media for providing these to us pro bono.
HRA was fortunate enough to win the 2014 public awareness award from Lush Cosmetics, acknowledging our work to promote non-animal methods of research. The award was for GBP25,000 which will of course assist our work greatly, but it also allowed us to present our work to a London audience and provided us with great international exposure – both of HRA and Leo. See highlights of the ceremony here.
Edging closer to a ban on cosmetics testing
Our partnership with Humane Society International - the Be Cruelty-Free Australia Campaign - gained momentum when Senator Lee Rhiannon introduced a Private Members Bill in March, to ban the testing of cosmetics on animals and the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals.
Furthermore, following discussions with Be Cruelty-Free Australia, the Senate passed a cross-party Motion which urged the Australian Government to eliminate cosmetics animal testing. The motion was co-sponsored by Liberal Senator Anne Ruston, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, Labor Senator Lisa Singh, Nationals Senator Barry O'Sullivan, Palmer United Party Senators Glenn Lazarus and Zhenya Wang, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, and Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator Ricky Muir.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Government and all parties to develop meaningful legislation that bans both animal testing and the sale of cosmetics products and ingredients tested on animals abroad, and in so doing puts Australia on the map as a country that says NO to cosmetics cruelty!
Launch of Through the Looking Glass campaign – seeking transparency in animal experimentation
Australians have a right to know what their tax dollars are funding, yet according to public opinion polls, few are aware that they are funding animal experiments. “Through the Looking Glass” was therefore launched calling for greater transparency and accountability via publication of ‘non-technical summaries’ and retrospective analysis as has recently been made compulsory in the European Union.
The Humane Charities List is a web-based resource that donors can refer to in order to check whether they can safely donate to a health or medical research charity without inadvertently supporting animal experiments. Our app has been created to provide easy access to this list and iphone and android versions can be downloaded at Humane Charities.
Maximum Tolerated Dose is the first feature-length documentary by Decipher Films. Equal parts found-footage mash-up, verite investigation, and artful meditation, the film charts the lives of both humans and non-humans who have experienced animal testing first-hand. In February 2013, HRA hosted a visit by director Karol Orzechowski and screenings of the movie in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane. The screenings were attended by HRA supporters, members of the public and people from within the animal research industry. Director Karol Orzechowski was also interviewed on Weekend Sunrise.
The costs and benefits of animal experiments.
Also in February, HRA, together with Anti Vivisection Union of South Australia, proudly sponsored an Australian speaking tour by Dr Andrew Knight.
Dr Knight toured six Australian capitals speaking on humane teaching methods in biomedical education, and the themes of his recent book on animal experiments and alternatives. He gave a total of 12 presentations in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Hobart, including presentations at the University of Queensland, School of Veterinary Science at Gatton, Murdoch University in Perth, the University of Sydney, and the University of Tasmania, with additional, less formal presentations at public dinners in most cities.
Public Opinion Poll
Our Public Opinion Poll, conducted by Nexus Research, was a follow up from our previous poll in 2008. It didn’t reveal any groundbreaking shift in attitudes, but it did show that we are slowly progressing.
What did the poll reveal?
- 64% of respondents do not believe that humans have the moral right to experiment on animals. This is up from 58% in 2008. (6% shift)
- 50% believe that animal experiments are necessary for the development of human medicines. This is down from 59% in 2008. (9% shift)
- More than half the population (56%) don’t believe that it is always safe to transfer results from animal research to apply to humans. This compares with 53% in 2008. (3% shift)
- 63% say they would not donate to a health or medical research charity if they knew it were funding animal experiments. In comparison, 57% said no in 2008. (6% shift)
- 68% support the use of scientific alternatives to the killing of animals in research. Although there is very little awareness of the alternatives. 84% did know of any.
Not a huge paradigm shift, small but positive progress, however, when we consider 6% of the Australian population, that’s equates to 460,000 people who have swayed their views to opposing animal experiments.
Researching and publishing case studies is a major part of our work. We obtain research papers from medical journals, cut through the scientific jargon and translate them into layman’s terms. We do this to demonstrate that the experiments that occur behind lab doors are not some exaggerated claims from yesteryear. They are happening right here and now.
This year we have uncovered:
Traumatic brain injury induced in rats
Too much coffee makes mice fat
Feeding lamingtons and meat pies to rats
11 cats killed after vision experiments
5 marmosets in brain research
Day old chicks used in behavioural studies
Beagles used in drug research
Macaques in attentional blink studies.
With the proposed European Union ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics scheduled for March 2013, HRA joined with international groups to instigate a worldwide campaign against product testing. HRA had the issue published in The Punch.
The primate importation campaign progressed with Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon introducing a private members bill to the Senate in November. HRA participated in a press conference following the introduction of the bill.
Primates featured well in the media during November as major articles, written wth the assistance of HRA, were published in The Age and Courier Mail.
Shaking lambs experiment
As part of our case studies, HRA did a great deal of media covering the shaking lambs experiment at Adelaide University. After a number of radio interviews HRA also had the issue published in The Punch. Other case studies included breast implants on pigs, inflicting sciatic pain in rats, feeding junk food to rats and infecting monkeys with HIV.
LaTrobe Lambs saved from imminent death.
In October 2012, HRA was made aware of a situation at LaTrobe University whereby a number of lambs used in a study to determine the effect of different feeds on fat, muscle and wool growth. (Animal Nutrition AGR2AN). After completion of the experiment the university was considering the slaughter of the animals rather than offering them to appropriate care.
Thanks to the continued pressure from students and other animal advocates (including members of HRA) the lambs were eventually sold and surrendered to Edgar’s Mission.
Interview on The Kerri Anne Show
HRA was given the rare opportunity to be interviewed live on The Kerri Anne show to discuss controversial chimpanzee experiments in the United States. Whilst we were very limited by the questions asked and the time allocated, this was a unique opportunity to raise the issue of animal experimentation to a far reaching audience on prime time television which our advertising budget could never allow. The interview can be viewed online.
New Internationalist debate with Laurie Pycroft of Pro-Test
HRA was also invited to participate in a debate with Laurie Pycroft from Oxford University group 'Pro-Test' about the necessity of animal testing in medical research.
The debate is available online.
This publication reaches an international audience so it was a wonderful opportunity to get the truth out there - that animal experiments are both unethical AND scientifically flawed – and also to raise the profile of HRA
Importation of primates for research purposes
Our current primary campaign is to stop the importation of primates for research purposes.
Australia is currently home to three government-funded primate breeding facilities - the National Marmoset and Macaque Facilities at Churchill, Victoria and the National Baboon Facility in Sydney, all of which breed animals specifically for the purpose of being used in research.
Despite this "ready supply", macaque monkeys continue to be imported from Indonesia. More detailed information on this campaign can be obtained from our most recent bulletin ‘Monkey Madness’.
The campaign gained momentum when Federal Parliament’s Deputy Speaker, Anna Burke, asked Trade Minister Craig Emerson whether monkeys imported from Indonesia are actually wild-caught – which is in breach of both Australian and Indonesian protocols. The call followed a petition of more than 10,000 signatories calling for a ban which was tabled in Federal Parliament in November by the member for Deakin, Mike Symon MP. (http://www.openaustralia.org/debates/?id=2011-11-23.166.1)
Kitty McSporran Saves the Animals – with the help of her magic cape
‘Kitty McSporran Saves the Animals’ was written by one of our members and HRA covered the cost of publication. This colourful story book is aimed at a much younger audience and addresses this taboo subject in a non-confronting way. Readers share in Kitty’s discovery that by not accepting the status quo, we can show compassion to other animals AND further medical research.
It is freely available to schools and libraries.
One of our very talented supporters, singer and songwriter Kerryn Vaughan allowed us to use her heart-wrenching song
‘Broken’ to use on a video about animal experimentation. The video is shown at all expos we attend and has been circulated widely through international animal groups and social media providing factual information and raising awareness of this important issue.
Provision of pound dogs to Queensland University
HRA has campaigned against the use of pound dogs in veterinary teaching since 2006. Together with our members and supporters we have engaged in ongoing correspondence with the councils involved, the Minister for Primary Industries (Tim Mulherin) and the University of Queensland Veterinary School. We have collected petitions which have been tabled in Parliament and we have personally presented a detailed submission - backed by international experts - to the Minister's Animal Welfare Advisory Committee which, at the request of the Minister, had undertaken a thorough review of the issue.
Upon completion of the review AWAC's recommendations were made to the Minister. They advised that the use of pound dogs for veterinary teaching should be phased out as soon as possible.
Leo – rescued from a laboratory
Leo first came to our attention in August 2010 when he was released from a testing facility. He was extremely lucky as most animals are killed after experiments are complete. Leo had been part of a study aimed at improving surgical techniques for vision correction in humans. His nictitating membranes (third eyelids) had been surgically removed, but unlike several other cats, he was not implanted with contact lenses as he was part of a control group. Prior to this, he had been used in vaccination studies at another facility.
With the help of local and Sydney-based rescue groups, HRA arranged for Leo to be relocated to Melbourne and rehabilitated with a foster carer. Leo is now in a safe and loving home and has assisted our work by putting a face to the huge statistics we present on animal experiments.
Art and Poetry competition
Our Art and poetry competition was a strategy to get secondary school age students to consider animal experiments. The entries received from across Australia confirmed to us that there is very little knowledge about animal research in this age group but it is heartening to see that it is an issue that these students, once aware, have become very passionate about. Some very positive feedback was received including one comment from a teacher in Whyalla who said “The kids have been enjoying the project and it’s an eye opener too!”
The competition was generously sponsored by Kodak and Pure Geisha toiletries which each provided prizes.
Production of television advert
A pivotal role of HRA is to raise public awareness of animal experimentation so that future policy can be influenced by public support for alternative non-animal methodologies in research. We were fortunate enough, by way of a small bequest, to produce three 15 second television and radio commercials. These commercials are non-confrontational but relay three key facts:
- The number of animals used for research in Australia is over 7 million every year.
- Testing drugs on animals has never guaranteed they will work in humans
- It’s impossible to predict through animal testing how 9 out of 10 drugs will behave in humans.
The adverts were aired as public service announements on Channel 10 and also (in paid slots) on Channel 31 and SBS. We are now looking into other avenues of distribution such as online advertising.
Rats and Beer experiment withdrawn from curriculum at University of Sydney
Since September 2007, following concerns from students, University of Sydney were challenged for the use of rats used in an experiment that involved feeding them Tooheys Old Beer to determine taste preferences. Along with other concerned parties, HRA co-signed letters of protest and a formal complaint to Industry & Investment NSW suggesting that the use of the rats in this experiment was a breach of the code of practice. Whilst the complaint was dismissed, it was confirmed by the university in December 09 that the Toohey’s experiment had been omitted from the course.
Green Ribbon campaign
HRA initiated Green Ribbon Week in 2008, to highlight the existence of research methods that avoid the use of animals and to promote these alternatives as the most effective and humane strategy to eliminate human diseases and provide safer medicines. Green Ribbon Week is celebrated in April each year, to commemorate World Week for Animals in Laboratories and has been gaining momentum since its inception.
The campaign was inspired by the need for a platform which empowered individuals and communities to voice their opposition to animal testing in a positive, non-threatening manner. In 2011, we were fortunate enough to obtain the support of Lush Cosmetics whose staff wore our green ribbons and displayed our posters in each of their stores.
Public opinion poll
In late 2008 HRA engaged market research firm, Nexus Research to measure Australian public perceptions on the issue of animal experimentation.
We undertook the work because as we plan our campaigns, in order to ensure we are focused on the areas where we can be most effective, we needed to understand:
- the current level of awareness of the experiments carried out in Australia;
- the level of public support or opposition to animal experimentation; and
- what segments of our community supports or opposes animal experimentation.
In addition, this barometer of public opinion enables us to measure how effective our efforts are at bringing about positive change, by comparing public opinion in another poll in the future. Some of the findings are outlined below.
- Only 62% of respondents were aware that animals are used in experimental research in Australia.
- Only 14% of respondents believe it is safe to transfer results of animal experiments to apply to humans
- Only 23% believe that humans have the moral right to experiment on animals
- In terms of the numbers of animals used in experiments each year (approximately 7 million) nearly 90% believe that this number should be reduced
- 79% believe medical research grants should be used at least in part to find alternatives to animal experiments.
- 47% of respondents indicated that they would not donate to a medical research or charity if they knew that it would be funding animal experiments
Publication of ‘Animal Experimentation – a necessary evil?’
Education is an area that we feel is of huge importance. Many members support our work simply because it is cruel and unethical to conduct invasive research on animals. While this reason alone should be sufficient, it is simply not enough if we are to engage in debate. It is so important that we are aware of the scientific arguments against animal research, understand how the system works and are able to challenge the justifications of the pro-animal research advocates. For this reason we produced the booklet “Animal Experimentation – a necessary evil?” It provides an overview of the types of research conducted in Australia, statistics, legislation and protection, species differences, examples of where animal research has caused delays and disasters, why it continues and the alternatives. The booklet is not an in-depth study but provides an overview of the issue so that members, supporters, students etc are provided with a basic understanding. The booklet is freely available to schools and libraries and can also be downloaded from our website.
Launch of our Case Studies
There is a public misconception that animals used in experiments are protected through the presence of ethics committees, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Code of Practice. There is also the view that it is “only” rats and mice that are used. Of course we know that neither of these is true. There are still horrific procedures that are still carried out on all types of animals – procedures that the general public are largely unaware of. We are attempting to address that by reporting on what really does occur in Australia.
The case studies listed on our website demonstrate that the experiments that occur behind lab doors are not some exaggerated claims from yesteryear. They are happening right here and now.
Jonathan Balcombe presentation
Taking advantage of his visit to Australia, HRA hosted an evening with Dr Jonathan Balcombe, an author and animal behaviourist who has written many papers on humane education and opposing animal experimentation. The evening was to assist Dr Balcombe launch his book Pleasurable Kingdom and also so educate and inspire our members and supporters.
Andre Menache tour
In May 2006, Humane Research Australia funded and organised a visit to Australia by Dr Andre Menache – a veterinary surgeon and leading international opponent of animal experimentation.
HRA arranged for meetings with several key bodies including the Principal Medical Advisor of the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and the Animal Research Review Panel NSW; conducted several media interviews; and presented to audiences at CSIRO, St Vincent Hospital Cardiology, Victor Chan Institute, Melbourne and Monash Universities as well as public seminars.
Alternatives to fetal calf serum (FCS)
Our meeting and presentation to the CSIRO (part of the above tour) identified a concern of many researchers about the use of fetal calf serum - commonly used in cell and tissue cultures as a source of nutrients, hormones and growth factors. Concerns were raised (by the researchers) about the cruel sourcing of the product (cardiac puncture of calf fetuses found in pregnant cows at the abattoir) as well as the high risk of viral contamination to biological samples.
HRA undertook to locate sources of synthetic alternatives which eliminated both the ethical and scientific concerns about fetal calf serum use. The information was passed on to universities and other research institutions around Australia and the feedback we received from several researchers was very positive indicating a move away from FCS use.
Production of ‘Beyond the Cage’
Many consider animal experimentation to be a complex issue and therefore even those who strongly oppose the practice avoid discussion of the topic. HRA therefore worked closely with a production company to create an educational DVD titled “Beyond the Cage” which is aimed at outlining the main arguments against animal-based research in simple and understandable terms. As part of this project we interviewed Dr Andre Menache and Australian veterinarian Dr Andrew Knight. We were also able to acquire the assistance of popular television personality Susie Wilks to introduce the program.
The resulting 15 minute DVD has been made available to schools around Australia and is also available online on You Tube.
Humane Charities List
After relocating from Sydney to Melbourne, and under the stewardship of a new staff and Management Committee, HRA (then called Australian Association for Humane Research) took over administration of the Humane Charities List – an online resource to help donors identify which health and medical research charities do NOT conduct nor fund animal-based research. The list continues to grow each year and is approaching 100 ‘humane’ charities.