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Inspiring Young People

Animal Research Day - University of Manchester

On the 17th March five Year 12 students got the amazing opportunity to visit the University of Manchester to go to the Animal Research day.  Read Ella's account of the day and her experience at the Animal Research Day. 

I was unsure about my views towards animal testing but this trip enlightened me as to how much the truth can be distorted.

To start the day off we had two lectures by Kirsty McIntyre and Dr Duncan Wilson. Both the lectures gave us information about the history of animal testing and some statistics. We also found out how information about animal testing can be either false or highly exaggerated. I found out that only 0.1% of animals that are tested on in the UK are cats and dogs but the media portrays animal testing as being done on lots of domestic animals such as dogs, cats to try and trigger a response from us as they are such emotional and sensitive animals. The talk with Dr Wilson was more of a debate about the welfare and ethics of animal testing. Due to the controversy surrounding animal testing we went through the history of how animals were treated and tested on and how much better the treatment of them is now. This debate was the most interesting part of the day as I learnt so much and got to develop my own opinion on animal testing as we all got involved to discuss the ethical issues surrounding it. I was shocked to discover that Octopuses are not a specially ‘protected species’, this is because they are invertebrates and have no backbone. However these animals are highly intelligent, emotional animals that have playful behaviour and are very self aware - this led to their status being reclassified.

The next part of the day we did two practicals- ‘the egg practical’ and the ‘bone marrow practical’. The ‘egg practical’ was done to show us how early stages of avian and mammalian development are similar. We used apparatus to crack open a fertilised chicken egg to see the developing heart. This was very fascinating as the heart was so clear and you could see perfectly the beating heart of the 3 day old embryo. This was good as it helped us to understand how development in research is essential in finding treatments for conditions such as a hole in the heart; this is because chick and human embryo hearts are very similar in structure. The ‘bone marrow practical’ involved using needles to flush out the bone marrow from mice bones (tibia and femur). Bone marrow contains stem cells and these are used to help research into some genetic diseases. Research on these animal bones could essentially be used to save human lives.

To conclude our day, we had a tour to experience first hand the conditions and standards in which the animals are kept. We saw species including mice, rats, and zebra fish.

Overall the day was very captivating as we got an idea of what goes on in a laboratory and heard views for and against the testing of animals, so we were able to form our own opinions on the topic. It was also very clear and precise in telling us what laws are in place to protect the animals. We were told how animal testing must not use animals if there is an alternative but if there isn't they must reduce the number of animals used, and also make their lives as painless, pleasant and stress free as possible. The day was very informative as a whole, and completely changed my perspective on using animals for research purposes.