UK (England) Live Exports from Ramsgate

KAALE (England):

Eyes on Animals (NL):

Read the EoA report on the importance of access to animals during transport by clicking on the following link:



Access Doors fitted all along the trailer are so very important for providing access to all animals carried (EoA)

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(Above and below – EoA)

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Mark (SAV and KAALE) and Lesley’s (Eyes on Animals) tireless work on boxed trailers has born fruit and the Dutch government has told the manufacturers of these trailers that they have to have access side doors so animals can be examined.

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Above – a typical Dutch registered ‘sealed’ box trailer (lacking side access doors) and carrying live animals sails from Ramsgate (V. Cameron KAALE)

The ones already in use could lose their certificates when they come up for renewal. You can read more about this and other issues we are heavily involved in on our website  KAALE

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The ‘Joline’ at Dover for berthing trials (V. Cameron KAALE)

The Joline sailed from Dover on 2nd May with just ONE transporter of sheep. This vehicle is owned by Onderwater, the owner of the ship, and we feel he was making a point to establish himself at Dover since the Harbour Board passed the ship in berthing tests.  There was a good turn out of protesters, but of course we could always do with more. We understand the Harbour Board will not talk to the RSPCA so at the moment they are being denied access to the port. Probably this is at the suggestion of Animal Health, who hate the RSPCA being there. We are asking everyone to get on to their MP and MEP about the denial of the RSPCA into the port and a letter to David Heath, the farming minister would help . Ruth will be doing a full report as usual which will appear on our website

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The ‘Joline’ departs Ramsgate with a typical load of animal transporters (J. Jackson KAALE)

Ramsgate Protester cleared of Sec 14 breach

An animal-rights protester has become the second person in 2 months to be cleared of breaching a police order during protests at Ramsgate port.


Gerard Bane appeared at Margate Magistrates Court charged with “knowingly failing to comply with a condition imposed by a senior police officer under Section 14 of The Public Order Act 1986” in Nov 2011.  The Sec 14 order means protesters have to stay within a designated area while they are demonstrating.  After a 7-hour trial and a 50-minute deliberation, magistrates cleared Mr Bane of any wrongdoing as evidence that he was actually protesting when he left the area was not beyond reasonable doubt.  A delighted Mr Bane told the Isle of Thanet Gazette: “It is wonderful news. I am happy to be able to return to stop live export protests from Ramsgate port without having my good name smeared.  “I have been overwhelmed by the support at my trial from friends, family, and complete strangers. From tomorrow, it’s business as usual.”  Mr Bane, who represented himself in court, maintained he had left the Sec 14 area to go home, where he had to care for his 7 rescue dogs and 6 rescue cats.  He left the section 14 area to walk away but says he was “pounced on by the police”.  Mr Bane added: “The Sec 14 was discussed and brought in as legislation to help contain during riotous acts. The protests at Ramsgate port are far from riotous. I don’t understand why we have Sec 14 orders in place.  “It is like trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer. It’s totally unnecessary.  “This is not just a victory for me but for all of the protesters that are standing up for what they believe in. “We can only hope now that Kent Police will see that these Sec 14 orders do not help them in any way and drop them from their remit.”  Asked whether the use of Sec 14 containment orders will now be reviewed a Kent Police spokesman said: “The primary role of Kent Police in this operation has been to facilitate lawful export activity and peaceful protest, to prevent and detect crime and disorder and to ensure the safety of the public, the protesters and the police.”



More than 100 people protested outside the Dept of Agriculture in Dublin over the reopening of the live cattle trade to Libya, and vowed to step up their campaign in the coming weeks. Libya banned imports from the EU in 1996 because of the BSE outbreak but recently lifted the ban. The first shipment of almost 3,000 Irish cattle went to the Middle East in February.




Australian cattle exporters said they had suspended live shipments to Egypt after abattoir footage shot by animal rights activists showed “horrific” mistreatment of cows. The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, the industry’s representative body, said it had urgently halted shipments to Egypt after Animals Australia presented it with footage showing “vicious, cruel and clumsy” practices.

Animal welfare groups want a permanent ban on live exports to Egypt after rejecting measures aimed at preventing cruelty like that seen in shocking footage of WA cattle. Animals Australia said the risk of cruelty in Egypt was too great to reopen the market, which exporters and producers closed voluntarily last week when the footage from 2 Egyptian abattoirs became available.

The controversial live exports trade is facing further scrutiny with fresh allegations of cruelty, this time concerning Australian goats and cattle in Malaysia. Already reeling from footage of Australian cattle being brutally slaughtered in Egypt, footage has emerged of goats being stuffed into sacks and put in the boot of a sedan in Malaysia.

The Australian Greens claim Australia could revive its struggling cattle industry and improve animal welfare standards by processing meat at home instead of continuing live exports.


Israel:  Woman stripped and milked

In an amazing piece of street theatre by the 269life movement in Israel, a woman had her baby forcefully taken from her, was stripped of her top and was milked with a milk expressing machine while she cried for her baby.  This moving action is to highlight what happens to dairy cows all the time so that humans can steal their babies’ milk.  Watch it at


UK:  Badger Cull


Badger demo

March Against the Badger Cull (by the Government) – 1st June 2013 – LONDON.

Britain’s oldest specialist agricultural journal has condemned government plans to shoot thousands of badgers. The Smallholder magazine, first published in 1910, has accused ministers of poor science and “craven submission to their political paymasters in the agri-lobby.”

A charity dedicated to the conservation and welfare of wildlife around the world is urging organic food companies to refuse to take products from badger-cull farms. According to Care for the Wild International the move could help boost the sector financially, while acknowledging the animal welfare concerns of customers.

A badger battle bus made a stop in Quedgeley yesterday as part of an anti-cull campaign. Campaigners who are against a planned cull of badgers in Gloucestershire, which could start in June, are touring the county. Police officers moved them on from the Tesco Extra store after a store manager complained about their presence. Tour manager Andrew Butler said: “The last cull was postponed but some people think it was stopped altogether so this tour is about reminding people about the Government’s plan to start the cull in the summer.  Jeanne Berry, from Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, said: “We’ve not found a single person in favour of the cull.”

Opponents of the badger cull have enlisted the help of members of the squatter and Traveller communities, threatening to occupy farm buildings and set up camps on private land where badgers will be shot. Newly-formed protest group, Squat the Cull, has further escalated tension in the rural areas earmarked for trials of the Government’s cull

A badger flash-mob protested today against a Government-led cull of the animals, outside Defra. 50 ‘badgers’ danced to Queen guitarist Brian May’s own version of the popular YouTube Badgers song, which was inspired by Queen’s hit record Flash.

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Farmers who support badger culling could be banned from trading at a farmers’ market in Gloucestershire under plans to force traders to sign an anti-cull agreement. Stroud Council wants to prevent any farms which that badger culling on their property from trading at the market after councillors agreed they did not support badger culling as a way to tackle bovine TB in the county.  Under the agreement being proposed, traders will also have to confirm that they have not sourced products from farms taking part in the planned cull.

Plans for a project to administer a TB vaccine to badgers in the wild have moved a step closer to being realised after a successful meeting between farmers, vets and a politician in Penwith, Cornwall. St Ives MP Andrew George called the meeting at an undisclosed location in Morvah “successful” and described himself as being “more optimistic” than he thought that the project which could start on a micro-scale as early as this year, would take place.

Cruelty to badgers on the rise

The number of people prosecuted for cruelty to badgers has almost doubled in 5 years, new figures suggest. The data, obtained by Labour MP Diane Abbott, showed 58 people were prosecuted in magistrates’ courts under the Protection of Badgers Act in 2011 – up from 30 in 2007.

Ms Abbott said pro-cull campaigning had given a “green light” to those carrying out crimes such as badger baiting. The government said unlicensed killing of badgers was “unacceptable”. The figures, revealed by Ms Abbott in a parliamentary question, showed that prosecutions for crimes including badger baiting have risen each year since 2007 – with only a minor dip to 48 in 2010 from 50 in 2009. Speaking in Parliament, Ms Abbott said …… “We’ve got to send the message out that this kind of thing is wrong. The laws are clear so we need to talk about why these incidents are increasing,” she said. The Labour MP added she was “concerned that there are gangs of people, sometimes with dogs, who think this is a macho thing to do”. “The problem is that some of campaigning on badger culling has given a green light to this kind attitude to our wildlife.”

Labour has opposed a badger cull, arguing it will cost more money than it saves, put strain on the police and could even spread TB as badgers flee to different parts of the country. Responding to the figures, a spokesman for Defra said: “Any killing of badgers without a licence is illegal and unacceptable. “If anyone has any evidence of that occurring, they are strongly encouraged to report this to local wildlife crime police officers to deal with.” BBC News 14th April



Israel:  Slaughterhouse transparency

As part of their campaign to make “the walls of slaughter houses transparent,” a guerrilla animal rights group in Israel recently scattered the heads of decapitated animals in public places throughout Tel Aviv and surrounding neighbourhoods. Last week police arrested ten 269life activists in connection with these rather visual public protests, which included dying the fountains red and placing the heads around them.


New Zealand:  Dairy farm neglect

New Zealand’s largest share milking company is on trial in the Rotorua District Court facing hundreds of charges of failing to feed and water a large dairy herd. Dairy farming operation Milk Pride, directors Murray Flett and Ross Cottier, and employees Craig Coote Raymond Griffin collectively face 625 charges. Radio NZ. 7 May



USA:  First “Ag-Gag” Prosecution

Amy Meyer wanted to see the slaughterhouse for herself. She had heard that anyone passing by could view the animals, so she drove to Dale Smith Meatpacking Company in Draper City, Utah, and from the side of the road she could see through the barbed-wire fence. Piles of horns littered the property. Cows struggled with workers who tried to lead them into a building. And one scene in particular made her stop. “A live cow who appeared to be sick or injured being carried away from the building in a tractor, as though she were nothing more than rubble.” As she witnessed this, Meyer did what most of us would in the age of smart phones and YouTube: she recorded. When the slaughterhouse manager came outside and told her to stop, she replied that she was on the public pavement and had the right to film. When police arrived, she said told them the same thing. According to the police report, the manager said she was trespassing and crossed over the barbed-wire fence, but the officer noted “there was no damage to the fence in my observation.” Meyer was allowed to leave. She later found out she was being prosecuted under the state’s new “ag-gag” law. This is the first prosecution in the country under one of these laws, which are designed to silence undercover investigators who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms. The legislation is a direct response to a series of shocking investigations by groups like the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals, and Compassion Over Killing that have led to plant closures, public outrage, and criminal charges against workers. UPDATE: Just 24 hours after the story broke, and following a massive amount of media coverage, prosecutors dropped all charges! 

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California’s “ag-gag” bill is no more.

Assembly Bill 343 would have forced animal activists to submit video evidence of livestock cruelty within 48 hours or face prosecution. Journalists and activist groups had rallied hard against the proposal, eventually forcing the author, Republican Jim Patterson of Fresno, to withdraw the legislation this week.

What’s in meat products?

We don’t know what is in a quarter of the meat products we buy. It also emerged that the Food Standards Agency was aware of the huge extent of food mislabelling months before the horsemeat scandal was exposed by inspectors in Ireland. DNA testing showed consumers were unwittingly eating food from a wide variety of animals never mentioned on any of the packaging. Sunday Express. 21 April 

Overcrowding on farms around Shanghai was the underlying factor that led to 16,000 dead pigs floating down the Huangpu River into China’s affluent financial centre, according to an analysis of official documents and interviews with farmers in the region.


Is China ready to go vegetarian?

In cities like Shanghai, poultry markets have closed and most residents still steer well clear of not only chicken but also pork – thanks to the lingering images of 16,000 diseased pig carcasses bopping along the Huangpu river.

Bird flu …. Every cloud…..

The new strain of bird flu in China has brought vegetable dealer Xu Jialiang a commercial opportunity. “Cabbage that was once left to rot has become a hit,” said Xu, adding that he recently sold more than 50 tonnes of cabbage in a single day, double the amount he was selling just 2 months ago.  “People have become more reluctant to eat poultry, so vegetables have become much more popular,” he said.  The Wuhan municipal bureau of commodity pricing said vegetable prices have surged since the end of March.  The first human H7N9 infection was reported in late March. A total of 102 cases have been reported to date, resulting in 20 deaths.  The poultry-raising industry, restaurants that sell poultry and even producers of shuttlecocks, which are made using bird feathers, have been impacted by the virus.  Figures from the China Animal Agriculture Association showed that direct economic losses for broiler chicken breeders have exceeded 3.7 billion ($593m). However, other sectors have been boosted by the virus’s arrival. In addition to vegetable vendors, sellers of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have also profited.


The parent company of KFC said sales had fallen in China because of concerns over a new bird flu outbreak. Yum Brands said publicity associated with Avian flu in China has had “significant, negative impact on KFC sales”, without giving figures.


Chinese police have arrested 904 people and seized 20,000 tonnes of illegal products since the turn of the year, in an investigation into “meat-related offences” which revealed fox, mink and rat meat all being passed off as mutton.

Ramsay’s foie gras cruelty

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Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has come under fire after an undercover video emerged exposing ‘shocking cruelty’ at a foie gras factory which supplies one of his licensed restaurants. PETA is accusing the star of having double standards after filming thousands of ducks being force-fed through steel tubes. In 2011, Ramsay made a documentary in which he condemned the slaughter of sharks to make shark fin soup. On the Channel 4 film Shark Bait, he described the cruelty of the industry as ‘sick’ and ‘barbaric’ and encouraged viewers not to buy the dish. But PETA have revealed how Hudson Valley Foie Gras appears on the ‘Menu Prestige’ at New York restaurant Gordon Ramsay at The London. The group have released undercover footage from the farm which shows steel tubes being forced down ducks throats to fill them with large amounts of grain three times a day. The Manhattan fine dining venue was sold by Ramsay to the Blackstone Group in 2009, but it continues to operate under the chef’s name and he acts as a consultant. An estimated 15,000 ducks per year die at the Hudson Valley Foie Gras factory before they even make it to slaughter. PETA claim experts probing foie gras production have found that force-feeding causes oesophageal tears and splits, liver rupture and failure, heat stress and aspiration pneumonia. The group has written a letter to Ramsay urging him to take foie gras off the menu.

Animal rights activists hacked the website of Hudson Valley Foie Gras and sent the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of their customers to animal rights groups.  The company has been fined tens of thousands of dollars for violations of the Clean Water Act.  “We temporarily took down their website ( and online store, and uncovered name/address/phone number/credit card details for over 1,200 customers who purchased foie gras and duck flesh products between June 2012 and April 2013.  The customer list includes many in California, where the production and sale of foie gras is illegal.  These email addresses were all published online.”

California chef Amar Santana said that now that his name, address, cell phone, and email have been published, he’s going to stop selling foie. “Those people care about animals more than people and they’re getting the support of the government to get away with what they want,” he said. “I’m not serving it anymore because this is getting out of hand.”

A family of Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) was photographed clinging to the sole remaining tree in their former forest habitat after the rest of it had been chopped down for a palm oil plantation. The orangutans were all starving by the time they were rescued. They were actually lucky: most orangutans in similar situations have been killed.

Dog Meat


Veteran actress Brigitte Bardot is appealing to the prime minister of Thailand to clamp down on the slaughter of thousands of dogs in illegal abattoirs. The French star, who is an avid animal rights activist, has penned an emotional open letter to Thai Premier Yingluck Shinawatra urging her to watch video Hell on Earth – Thailand’s Dog Meat Trade in a bid to open her eyes to the brutal operation.


USA: Bees

Nearly a third of managed honeybee colonies in America died out or disappeared over the winter, an annual survey found. The decline – which was far worse than the winter before – threatens the survival of some bee colonies. The heavy losses of pollinators also threatens the country’s food supply, researchers said.


World: Vivisection News Shorts.



USA:  Harvard to shut primate centre

Harvard University announced that it would shut down its primate research centre and move the 2,000 rhesus macaques and cotton-top tamarins to other research facilities throughout the country. Harvard cited “financial uncertainties” as the cause of the shutdown, neglecting to mention that this research facility has been cited for violations of animal welfare by both governmental and private organizations.

The facility was called out last January by the Dept of Agriculture for 5 direct violations, including the deaths of multiple monkeys as well as poor treatment of other monkeys–one cage was too small, others showed signs of psychological distress. Of the deceased monkeys, the one that jumps out is a cotton-top tamarin, a very small New World monkey that was euthanized after it was discovered that its watering system had malfunctioned, leading to severe dehydration.

It is not clear why the facility decided that euthanizing was the best solution to dehydration.  Harvard claims the decision was solely based on economics, and researchers at the facility expressed disappointment that research would have to end. Popsci. 25 April



  China:  China Southern Airlines



Following the ban on primate transports imposed by China Eastern Airlines last month, and the subsequent clarification from Hainan Airlines, we can now confirm that China Southern Airlines are the last transporter of primates destined for the research industry from China to the US and Europe.

Gateway to Hell Campaign.


Big pharma cares  ????

GlaxoSmithKline has been accused of paying 3 generic firms to delay the release of cheaper copies of one of its key anti-depressant drugs in a bid to protect one of its best performing products. The Office of Fair Trading has said it had found evidence that the FTSE100 pharmaceutical giant made “substantial payments” to Alpharma, Generics UK and Norton Healthcare.


The U.S. government filed a civil fraud lawsuit against Novartis AG on Tuesday, accusing a unit of the Swiss drug maker of causing the Medicare and Medicaid programs to pay tens of millions of dollars in reimbursements based on fraudulent, kickback-tainted claims.


As many as 2,644 people, called subjects, died during the clinical trials of 475 new drugs on human beings in last 7 years and only 17 of the medicines were approved for marketing in India.



UK:  Horrific expose at Imperial College London

An undercover investigation carried out by the BUAV has exposed appalling suffering and wrong-doing inside one of the UK’s leading universities, Imperial College London, ranked as one of the best in the world. Despite Government and industry claims that the UK has strong regulations in place, the BUAV has uncovered a catalogue of suffering and wrongdoing.

Behind the closed doors of this ‘world-leading’ university, the BUAV investigator discovered a nightmare world for animals used in experiments: animals who suffered even more than was allowed by the experiment because of staff incompetence and neglect; a failure to provide adequate anaesthesia and pain relief; breaches and lack of knowledge of UK Home Office project licences and the shocking way in which animals were killed. The harrowing experiments carried out at Imperial College during the investigation involved the deliberate infliction of major organ damage, surgical mutilation and invasive head surgery to implant cannulas (tubes) so that substances could be directly injected into the brain.

Some animals were forced to run on treadmills to exhaustion to avoid electric shocks, others were restrained while a long tube was forced down their throats and substances injected directly into their stomachs. This investigation has shed new light on the daily reality for animals in laboratories and the ordeal they are forced to endure.

“Thanks to public scrutiny, the UK has some of the highest welfare standards in animal research in the world.” (Principal of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College 22 October 2012)   Their suffering was often severe and could include a high degree of pain, distress, weeping or bleeding head or abdomen wounds, diarrhoea, lethargy or hypothermia. Many animals died during or after the surgery; and others had to be killed because the level of their suffering was so great. In the researcher’s own words: “Because I am doing feeding studies, I want to make sure that I don’t crack their teeth (laughs) …. …sometimes if you tighten it their teeth break and that’s not really useful when you’re doing feeding studies.” – A researcher puts a rat into a device ready for brain surgery.

Often with the radio blasting continuously in the research facility, rats and mice were subjected to a range of distressing and painful experiments and tests, often causing them severe suffering.  Again In their own words: “I culled one because I made a mistake (laughs) I left the clamp in the tummy and I stitched up and I was looking for the clamp – ‘where is it?’ – and I realised – oh my god there’s a clamp in the mouse tummy”   Even those individuals with special responsibilities under the UK legislation to ensure good animal welfare care and practice – the Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers (NACWO) and the Named Veterinary Surgeons (NVS) – failed the animals at Imperial College.

In Oct 2012, 8 out of 20 rats died in one experiment. The researcher said: “A couple I had to kill because their cannula wasn’t in the right place and then we’ve lost 6 so quite a lot.” One researcher even raised concerns about the competence of a colleague: “I think you should keep an eye on XXX because he makes many mistakes.” The researcher in question wrongly blamed a heat box for the death of one rat recovering from surgery and, on another occasion, claimed there was a problem with the anaesthesia when one rat woke up during brain surgery while he was injecting a substance into the brain. Out of 4 rats the researcher carried out surgery on 24th July 2012, one woke up during surgery and one died at the end of the surgery.

On 23rd July, one researcher worked on 2 mice simultaneously. When asked whether she always did it like this, , she replied: “Yeah because otherwise it takes forever.” The surgery involved clamping the blood supply to one of the kidneys of 6 mice. She laughingly reported that she had made a mistake and one mouse had to be killed. She had left a clamp still attached to one kidney and then sewn up the mouse.

One of the disturbing things the BUAV investigation uncovered was the lack of knowledge that researchers had about their project licences, in particular the severity limits and endpoints. Each project licence is graded ‘unclassified,’ ‘mild’, ‘moderate’, or ‘substantial’ depending on the level of pain and suffering inflicted on the animals. Not knowing the severity levels and endpoints is no laughing matter; as a result, animals can be subjected to even more pain and suffering than was permitted by the licence.

The BUAV is calling on the Home Secretary to revoke Imperial College’s Establishment Licence, stopping them from carrying out further animal research, and launch a full and independent inquiry in the concerns raised by the BUAV investigation. The RSPCA too is supporting this call.


Brilliant Animal Advocate and Former Imperial College student and Queen guitarist Dr Brian May (pictured above) has spoken out against the university and backed our call for an independent inquiry:

“I am shocked and saddened to see these revelations. And ashamed that it could have taken place in the University of my own training, in which I have had so much pride.

I can only fully support the work of BUAV and the RSPCA in conducting a full inquiry. And I hope the result will be that this appalling cruelty will never be allowed to happen again.

Research on animals is an outdated concept – unethical, and unsupportable now that it is known that it yields false results. There is now, in every case, a better alternative.

Experimentation on animals must now come to an end, and I urge Imperial College to use this opportunity to put all cruelty in the past, by eliminating animal experimentation, and thereby set an example to the world. 

Watch the investigation film and find out more about the investigation:   Sign the petition at:



Japan:  No animal test but it still worked

A research team from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine has come under suspicion of treating a heart attack patient with stem cells in a clinical trial in 2004 without animal testing to confirm the safety of the treatment.

The trial was conducted under the direction of Prof Hiroaki Matsubara, who resigned at the end of Feb this year. Matsubara informed the university about the process during a university inquiry into alleged improprieties in research papers.

He stressed that he referenced animal testing with a chronic heart condition. However, the patient in question had an acute condition, which was different. “From the perspective of medical ethics, it’s possible there were serious problems with the process,” the university’s investigation committee stated in a report.

The clinical trial was apparently conducted on Feb. 14, 2004, after passing screening by the university’s ethics committee. Researchers extracted blood vessel-forming stem cells from the blood of a male patient in his 40s who had suffered an acute myocardial infarction, a kind of heart attack. To regenerate blood vessels in the heart, they injected stem cells directly into a coronary artery through a catheter inserted into him from his foot. The same day, the researchers held a news conference stating that they had conducted the first clinical trial of its kind in the world.

They said they had confirmed the effect of the process in advance in experiments with pigs. The patient is said to have been released from hospital about 2 weeks later. According to a paper published in Japanese Circulation Society’s journal in 2007, clinical tests were performed on a total of 18 people. It concluded that the process was effective and that no problems occurred.



Australia:  Baboons killed in pointless research

Animal activists say the “pointless” killing of 8 baboons used in a Sydney study highlights the need to end animal experimentation.

In the study, reported in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, surgeons from Royal North Shore Hospital cut the shoulder tendons of the baboons and then undertook tendon-to-bone repair of the rotator cuff of each animal to study healing rates.

The ageing female baboons were killed in the course of the research, which was approved by the University of NSW Ethics Committee and the Central Sydney Area Health Service Animal Welfare Committee.

Humane Research Australia’s CEO Helen Marston said the study, published in 2010, highlighted the plight of lab animals during Global World Week for Animals in Laboratories. The baboons had died in a “pointless and cruel surgery experiment”, she said. “The final conclusion was a recommendation that excessive tension on the repair site should be avoided for at least 12 weeks, hardly a new revelation, and one that is already well known and documented by orthopaedic surgeons around the world,” Ms Marston said. World News Australia. 23 April

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Russia:  Animals launched into orbit

An unusual crew of 45 mice, 8 Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos and a few other species of animals were launched into orbit aboard the Russian Bion-M1 space capsule to undergo a month-long experiment to study the effect of space travel on them.

A Russian Soyuz rocket took off from Kazakhstan with the animals on board.

The scientists are confident the animals will return to Earth alive. 

BBC News. 19 April