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Charity & Activism
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On Thursday 20 April 2017, Animal Justice Project campaigners lit up a bridge in Bristol in a spectacular protest – the first of its kind in the United Kingdom – against animal research at Bristol University. The event was part of a global day of action, ‘International Britches Day’. Britches was a macaque monkey who was rescued from a US laboratory in 1985, and who has become synonymous with efforts to end animal experiments. Around 30 campaigners, including those from Bristol Animal Rights Collective and Bristol Animal Save held signs projecting a loud and clear message to the university, passers-by and motorists, that there continues to be opposition to the university’s using and killing of animals for experiments. This is the second awareness-raising event Animal Justice Project has carried out on Bristol University specifically. The Bristol Post covered the event, which meant our message reached thousands. The university has been the focus of their nationwide campaign, Campus without Cruelty due to its use of animals and its failure to, over several years, respond to Freedom of Information requests on the numbers and types of animals there. The university was previously stated that that there was no central record keeping system, however, in March 2017, it told Animal Justice Project that the information is ‘exempt from disclosure under Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as it is intended for future publication’. Campaigners therefore remain in the dark as to what animals are housed at the university, and how many. The Animal Justice Project campaign was established to tackle the two million animal experiments being carried out in Britain each year on university campuses. That is half of all animal experiments taking place here. The failures of animal-based research and worsening successes of human trials have increasingly been put under the spotlight. In 2016, leading doctor, Michael Bracke, from the Yale University School of Public Health, condemned animal research, saying ‘animal study methodology is 40 years behind human clinical study design’. In the same year, Professor Malcolm Macleod from The University of Edinburgh stated that two-thirds of all published animal studies contain serious errors, including those published in the best journals. This is particularly relevant for UK universities where most of the so-called ‘fundamental’ research involves animals. Our innovative Light Brigade – the first of its kind in the UK – on International Britches Day was designed to send a bright and clear reminder to Bristol University that its use and killing of animals will not be swept under the carpet, despite apparent attempts to hide it. The failures of animal research, and the dimming successes consequential human trials are now well-acknowledged by leading scientists. Bristol University’s secrecy on animal experimentation is out of step with modern-day thinking and only furthers our determination to shine a light on the cruel practices taking place there. #InternationalBritchesDay #WWAIL