Unmasking Military Experiments on Animals
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Animal Justice Project
March 2015

"There can be no justification for the pain inflicted upon other animals to test ways of harming and destroying ourselves"
- International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals (IAAPEA)

Pigs being forced to inhale toxic mustard gas, macaque monkeys injected with vaccines, marmosets infected with biothreat diseases, battlefield wounds inflicted on rabbits, rats having their eyes blasted with projectiles, mice having their eyes burnt with lasers, guinea pigs forced to inhale nerve gas: these are just some of the shocking experiments carried out in the UK many at the infamous secret military research laboratory Porton Down, near Salisbury, Wiltshire. Others at so-called "leading" universities such as Oxford and Birmingham, also researchers from Cambridge have been involved in horrendous military experiments. Additionally, British scientists continue to collaborate with authorities in the United States to carry out animal experimentation.

Animal Justice Project can reveal that, in the UK, the Home Office continues to issue licenses to carry out these horrific military experiments despite strong ethical and scientific arguments against them.

Animal Justice Project Scientific Consultant, Dr. Andre Menache BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS has provided a critique of the experiments. You can find his in depth report HERE.

Pigs at Porton Down: Forced to Inhale Mustard Gas. (2013)

Pigs are not only exploited as farmed animals, they have been the "animal of choice" in many military experiments at Porton Down.

In 2013, 14 female pigs were forced to inhale mustard gas. A highly toxic and lethal gas used in military warfare that causes blistering in the mouth, eyes, nose, windpipe and lungs and ultimately suffocation due to lung damage. These animals endured this immeasurable suffering for up to 12 hours. Countless experiments have been carried out at Porton Down on animals involving mustard gas over the years.

Six of the pigs used in this experiment had been previously used in toxicology experiments and this itself is not only ethically wrong but also scientifically, as can influence results.

With nine pigs researchers failed to put a breathing tube down their throats when they were anesthetised so they pierced holes in the animals throats and inserted tubes in. Failing to accomplish this routine procedure for 64% of the animals in the experiment leads one to question competence, not only in this basic technique, but in overall animal care.

One of the pigs died as a result of the initial experiment and several were killed with drug overdoses before the termination of the experiment due to their severe symptoms.

This experiment, aside from being a repeat experiment that used public money, is scientifically flawed.

The treatment received by the pigs is of huge concern.

The outcome of this research? To do even more experiments on animals despite previous experiments in 2010 and 2008 which had no tangible results. The circle of suffering and flawed science repeats itself again and again.

military experiments animals
Lab Pig: The University of Georgia

Pigs UK & US Collaboration: Inflicted Trauma. (2014)

At United States Army Institute of Surgical Research in Texas, (collaboration is not only in theatres of war but also in laboratories), twenty female pigs were anaesthetised and 35% of their body's blood was drained in order to simulate shock. After which balloons were inserted into the main artery and left for different amounts of time to replicate what is normally done to humans to temporarily stop bleeding.

military experiments animals

From the outset, this experiment was flawed. Removing 35% of any living being's blood in 20 minutes would kill them instantly if they did not receive immediate care "on scene", hardly a simulation of a real life battlefield. The researchers at no point in their paper mention the welfare of the pigs during the experiment and whether they received around the clock care.

  • The researchers note in this paper that this experiment reaffirms what they already knew regarding this technique, therefore it was a waste of lives, money and time.
  • Why carry out experiments on pigs who have a differing physiology to humans? The blood circulatory system is different in 4 legged animals to that of humans. In humans, nearly 70% of the blood volume is situated below the level of the heart. In quadrupeds (pigs) 70% of the blood volume is at or above the level of the heart. This has a significant impact on the results of any type of experiment, especially those involving in trauma.
  • Why wasn't Trauma Man's surgical simulator used in this experiment as it is for others? Why is the UK military collaborating with outdated, unethical experiments?

Marmosets at Porton Down: Infected with Classified Biological Weapon Bacteria and Virus. (2014)

Porton Down has housed a colony of marmosets (small-bodied, arboreal New World monkeys usually used in vile experiments to induce Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease), since the 1970s. Over the decades, these highly active, social and intelligent animals have also been used in diverse and hideous experiments which have included being poisoned with anthrax and sarin gas, to infection with the Pahvant Valley plague.

At least 34 Marmoset monkeys at Porton Down were infected with variously classified biothreat warfare bacterias, Francisella tularensis, Marburg disease and Burkholderia pseudomallei. They were left to, potentially, suffer the full impact of these diseases. Symptoms of these infections are fever, vomiting, breathing difficulties, diarrhoea, severe headaches and pus filled lesions.

The purpose of this study was to establish whether marmosets are "appropriate models" for use in experiments with highly toxic substances. Experiments that could potentially use LD50 protocol.

LD50 is outlawed in the UK, however, the Ministry of Defence has an exemption so these horrific toxicology experiments, of which the objective is to kill half the number (50%) of animals experimented on, still continues. The MOD should not be conceded exemption to these barbaric experiments.

An experiment that is classified as "severe" can means immense suffering. The fact that it was authorised by an Ethics Committee, as well as approved by the Home Office is shameful.

Again another repetitive experiment in "competition" with those taking place in other laboratories.

The "justification" for these experiments is tenuous. "Similarity to humans" does not mean the same as humans.

The purpose of this experiment was to "validate" using Marmosets despite scientific evidence against the use of animals.

military experiments animals
Lab technician holds small Marmoset: UAE

Marmosets at Porton Down: Infected with Lethal Virus. (2013)

At least 28 Marmoset monkeys were exposed to the horrific Marburg Virus from the same family as the Ebola virus.

Prior to exposure to the virus, Marmosets had telemetry devices to measure body temperature and other vital signs surgically implanted into their abdomens. 12 Marmosets were exposed via the inhalation route to the Marberg Virus, they were placed in tubes, commonly used to restrict movement which only exposed the head and subjected them to the virus. After 5-6 days following inhalation of the Marburg Virus the animals started to suffer symptoms and signs of full-blown infection: haemorrhaging, persistent high fever, a transient rash, severe clinical signs such as high viral titres in all organs and severe hepatitis. Overt signs of infection included a hunched posture, shortness of breath and a subdued nature.Typical signs of infection in the Marmosets included haemorrhaging from the vagina and eyes. Some Marmosets suffered a high fever for 90 hours.By day 7 symptoms worsened and the Marmosets began to suffer from necrosis in the lungs (death of lung tissue). By the terminal stage the Marmosets suffered moderate to severe hepatitis and death of the tissue of the liver. Kidneys were also observed to be hemorrhaging and half the animals observed had hemorrhaging in their lungs. Some Marmosets survived for up to 10 and a half days the average survival was 9 days. It is not stated explicitly how many were "found dead" nor how many were "culled".

  • An experiment that causes such endless painful and desperate suffering should never be licensed. Some Marmosets already suffering severe symptoms of the disease at 7 days were left to suffer for up to another 3 days.
  • Further experiments cited by Animal Justice Project demonstrate that Porton Down continued to carry out similar experiments on "validating" Marmosets for these experiments.

Mice at Oxford University: Laser Burns to eyes. (2013)

Mice small rodents who are often forgotten by society are the most "used" animals in laboratories, and suffer horrendous procedures at the hands of researchers. Increasingly, these animals are bred with lethal genetic mutations.

At Oxford University, 55 mice were subjected to laser burns to their eyes to simulate battlefield injuries and, as if this wasn't bad enough, then had liquid injected into their eyes The mice then had their necks broken up to six weeks after the experiment.

No mention of pain relief following this barbaric experiment.

Breaking of animals necks, especially without anaesthetic, is brutal and often animals suffer.

The researchers admit that making a link between these experiments in rodents and humans is "difficult". Added to which, at best mice's normal eyesight is the human equivalent of being registered blind.

Laser treatment for humans has existed since the 1980s and, therefore, so has damage to eyes by lasers. Enough human data means these experiments are no more than curiosity driven.

There is no conclusion as to whether the injections into the eyes of mice can help or harm either humans or mice.

GM Mouse on Technician's hand: UAE

Tattooed Macaque held by technician: UAE

Macaques at Porton Down: Infected with TB. (2014).

12 four-year old male macaques were imported from China to Porton Down to be used in this experiment. The immense suffering endured by these sensitive and intelligent primates during long-haul flights as cargo for the research industry has been well documented by NGO's, and can even result in their death

Upon reaching their destination, these animals were subjected to further extreme suffering. Six of the 12 monkeys were vaccinated against TB using a commercially available BCG vaccine. Twenty-one weeks after immunisation with BCG, the six vaccinated and the six unvaccinated monkeys were sedated and received a dose of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria via the nose. For 7 months the monkeys remained in their cages being "observed". The 3 macaques that weren't vaccinated started to suffer symptoms that included breathing difficulties, 20% loss of body weight and developed fevers. The Macaques were provided with DVDs for "visual stimulation".

Only when these three monkeys had reached what the researchers classified as humane end-points were they put out of their misery. As were the other healthy macaques at the end of the experiment.

  • 49 weeks locked in basic cages, the bare minimum allowed.
  • Despite a wealth of human-based research on BCG vaccine, the researchers again used macaques in experiments, experiments. These experiments give no scientific evidence on how vaccine will or will not react in humans.

Rats at Birmingham University: Shot in Their Eyes with Projectiles. (2014).

At least 63 rats suffered horrific and, undoubtedly, substantially painful blunt trauma to their eyes from simulated gunshot injuries. The researchers shot the rats in the eyes using projectiles fired at the speed of 20 meters per second using compressed air. Some rats were killed after a few hours, but others suffered for 14 days in cages with no mention of painkillers being given, nor do they account for any brain damage, nor the level of blindness suffered by these poor rats. During this time the animals were subjected to injections into their eyes before being killed and having their eyes removed.

Rat eyes and human eyes are completely different, and these injuries afflict rats in different ways to humans. According to the researchers, eye injuries affect the macula in 73% of military, and 31% of civilian cases, and yet rats lack a macula.

The researchers cite previous clinical observations in humans that make these animal experiments obsolete and irrelevant.

This experiment caused endless suffering. It was brutal and cruel.

military experiments animals
Lab technician grasps rat: UAE

military experiments animals
Lab technician checks rabbit: UAE

Rabbits at Porton Down: Inflicted Wounds Infected with Bacteria. (2014)

30 rabbits were involved in this barbaric experiment. Rabbits, naturally shy animals who often dislike being handled by humans, suffer terribly in the laboratory environment as they are often housed in bare metal cages, with no companionship of their own kind. Following surgery to isolate leg muscles, researchers put the animals' back legs in clamps and dropped heavy weights on them, equivalent to approximately five times their own body weight. They then purposely infected the open wounds with bacteria in order to simulate a battlefield injury. Researchers divided the badly injured rabbits into groups and administered different substances to the wounds. After seven days of suffering, the rabbits were killed.

Shockingly, the researchers concluded that further similar experiments would be required, but of a longer duration (of 14 days), which would obviously mean further suffering for these poor animals.

  • Rabbits are prey animals, they hide their fear and pain in the presence of humans, so the validity of researchers who negated their suffering is a display of their lack of understanding of rabbits. Any being would feel pain when 5 times their body weight was dropped on a limb.
  • The immune systems of rabbits and humans are not comparable by any stretch of the imagination and, therefore, the experiment is of no use.
  • Researchers again ignore the wealth of documented human-based research on wound infections.
  • The use of anesthesia to change the dressing is another obvious indicator that the rabbits experienced a high degree of pain, stress and suffering.

Guinea Pigs at Porton Down: Exposed to Nerve Gas. (2013)

At least 25 guinea pigs were used in archaic nerve gas experiments where transmitters were implanted between shoulder blades or along the muscles of the spine. The guinea pigs were exposed to toxic nerve gas whilst confined in small cupboards. The resultant symptoms varied between animals from lung hemorrhages, salivation, difficulty in movement, severe tremor to excessive tears (lachrymation). Some died within the first 24 hours. One unfortunate guinea pig, as part of the experimental protocol, was not treated at all following gas exposure and survived 48 hours of horrendous suffering before dying. Two guinea pigs were killed as a result of wound infections from the transmitter implants, and only ten survived with differing treatments following 7 days of suffering. All animals who survived were killed at the end of the study.

The researchers have been involved in similar experiments using animals and chemical warfare agents since 2006.

Again researchers fail to use modern, non animal-based ethical methods to test such toxic agents (toxicogenomics).

Crude, barbaric experiments that have no validity in humans and cause immense suffering in other animals.

military experiments animals
Handling lab Guinea Pig: University of Michigan

Whistblower Information

Return to Animal Rights Articles