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Awareness of the ethical case against animal experimentation ... high motivation and campaigns based on student, rather than animal, rights ...

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activists and scholars assessing campaigns to end animal experimentation

Activists and Scholars: Assessing Campaigns to End Animal Experimentation

Andrew Knight BSc., BVMS, CertAW, MRCVS

Director, Animal Consultants International

  • Militant and direct activism
  • Requirements for ending animal experimentation
  • Scientific activism
  • Student activism
  • Public activism
  • Conclusion
militant direct activism
Militant & direct activism


  • Protests, sometimes persistent and protracted
  • Home demonstrations and staff harassment
  • Laboratory raids and animal rescues
  • Property destruction: vandalism, arson, (sinking whaling ships !)
  • Threatening behaviour, e.g., mailed razor blades, pipe bombs (!?!)


  • Animals rescued
  • Video/camera footage gained
  • Laboratories and breeding facilities closed due to staff harassment and economic damage
militant direct activism5
Militant & direct activism


  • Loss of media support
  • Loss of public goodwill
  • ‘Terrorist’ characterisation by the biomedical research industry
  • Hardening of governmental positions in support of animal experimentation
  • Repression of activists
militant direct activism6
Militant & direct activism

Clifton M. Arsons boost bill that would inhibit access to info about animal research. Animal People 2008; 18(6): 22:

“Firebombs detonated on a porch and in a home belonging to University of California at Santa Cruz researchers in the early morning of August 2, 2008 are believed to have given a big late-in-session boost to AB 2296, a bill which would allow universities to withhold the names of animal researchers from public documents.

AB 2296 is in some respects a state version of the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act…”

militant direct activism7
Militant & direct activism

Dr Elliot Katz, Founder, In Defense of Animals:

“AB 2296 would restrict access to information about animal research at both public institutions and private companies receiving public funding.”

Eric Mills, Founder, Action for Animals:

“Such actions put people in danger, and do nothing to help animals, or further our cause; indeed, they are counter-productive, …”

“The Santa Cruz firebombings, like several others in the past several years, imminently preceded the sentencing of a prominent direct action advocate. Tre Arrow, 34,…, on August 12, 2008 drew 78 months in federal prison and a restitution order for a series of arsons committed in the name of the Earth Liberation Front…”

animal experimentation will continue as long as
Animal experimentation willcontinue, as long as:

A majority of(i) the government (ii) scientists and(iii) the public believe it is necessary to protect and advance human health, (and (iv), a sizeable industry is economically reliant on it).


  • Direct government intervention
  • Translocation to countries where animal protection is minimal
requirements for ending animal experimentation
Requirements for ending animal experimentation
  • Awareness by governments, ethics committee members, scientists and the public of the poor human clinical and toxicological predictivity and utility of animal experiments
  • Awareness of the poor costs/benefit ratio of animal experimentation vs. other mechanisms for protecting and advancing human health
  • Awareness of the ethical case against animal experimentation (?)
  • Resultant public support for restrictions/bans on animal experimentation
  • Resultant legislative restrictions/bans on animal experimentation
  • Finally… outreach to other countries
scientific activism
Scientific activism
  • Publication in peer-reviewed biomedical journals of systematic reviews demonstrating the poor human clinical or toxicological utility of animal experiments [around 93% demonstrate poor human utility]
  • Outreaching of these results:
    • Scientific and popular media
    • Scientific conferences
    • Legislators
    • Ethics committees
    • Universities
    • Public presentations
  • Maximising impact requires the active participation of the animal protection movement!
student activism campaigns for humane teaching methods
Student activism: campaigns for humane teaching methods
  • Importance:
    • directly saves animal lives
    • allows compassionate students to graduate
    • increases pool of scientists knowledgeable about and sympathetic towards alternatives
    • winnable!
  • Student successes internationally
  • Secrets of student success: high motivation and campaigns based on student, rather than animal, rights
inspiring student campaigns
Inspiring student campaigns
  • Provide students with information about humane alternatives
  • Inspire them to conscientiously object
  • Guide them in the steps needed to maximize their chances of success
  • Provide them with the resources they need to win!
  • Outreach: biomedical student noticeboards, student magazines, animal protection newsletters, websites, presentations, essay competitions.
public activism
Public activism

Goals: educating legislators, scientists, the media, and the public about the scientific and ethical case against animal experimentation:

  • Forwarding existing scientific studies or abstracts/shorter articles
  • Publishing own letters/articles
  • Speaking or arranging speaking opportunities/debates for experts
  • Seeking media attention through tactics designed to generate both awareness and support:
    • Laboratory raids/undercover investigations to rescue animals and gain footage of laboratory conditions
    • Graphic stunts: occupations, sit-ins, die-ins, pie-throwing, etc!

There is a great deal of intelligent, strategic activism which is not undertaken by the animal protection movement, although it is well within our ability. Such activism would significantly speed up the abolition of animal experimentation, which will otherwise take a very long time.

evidence based websites Peer-reviewed studies of human predictivity/utility, governmental reports, reviews of alternative strategies. Over over 400 published studies of harmful animal use and humane alternatives, in various educational disciplines. The European Resource Centre for Alternatives in Higher Education Database: over 70 high quality educational alternatives, most with commissioned reviews by professional educators.

Evidence-based websites

Andrew Knight BSc., BVMS, CertAW, MRCVS

Director, Animal Consultants International