NEWS

University Of Michigan Accused Of 'Negligence' Over Lab Animal Deaths, Missing Rabbit

Docs obtained by an anti-animal-testing group found that dozens of mice and thousands of fish died due to accidents.
A rabbit with altered DNA (not pictured) mysteriously vanished last year at a University of Michigan lab, a new report shows.
A rabbit with altered DNA (not pictured) mysteriously vanished last year at a University of Michigan lab, a new report shows.

A new report reveals that dozens of mice and thousands of fish died in accidents ― and a rabbit went mysteriously missing ― in University of Michigan laboratories over a six-month period.

MLlive.com reported Friday on the findings of anti-animal-testing group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, which had submitted a records request and obtained letters sent from the university to the federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. You can read MLive’s full story on the report here.

The letters detail multiple instances between March and September 2018 in which animals suffered due to apparent lax oversight from the labs. 

In one incident, 53 mice died of dehydration after their water supply was accidentally disrupted. In another, 11,548 zebra fish were killed when bleach was somehow accidentally pumped into their tank.

Additionally, at one point a caretaker noticed that a rabbit described as transgenic ― meaning it had artificially introduced DNA from another organism ― had vanished from the lab. There was no record indicating where the rabbit had gone.

letter from SAEN to the university accused the lab of “negligence” in each incident, and noted that the bleach incident would have been “highly painful” for the fish.

In a statement sent to HuffPost, the university said that each incident was “corrected immediately by our animal care team” once discovered, and “corrective plans were put into place to prevent any future issues.”

“The University of Michigan recognizes that working with animals to advance human and animal health is a privilege that requires constant diligence and a commitment to the highest standards of animal welfare in all aspects of our research and teaching,” the statement said. “We deeply regret the loss of these animals, most of which were zebrafish.”

The statement also noted that the university had reported all incidents to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, which “found that the institution took all necessary steps to self-report and correct these isolated incidents.”

The university declined to provide any additional information about the rabbit or what changes had been made to its DNA.

The report on the university comes just days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture came under fire over a report that it had purchased hundreds of cats or dogs from shelters or meat markets overseas in order to kill and feed them to U.S. lab animals in an effort to learn about the prevalence of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

And earlier this month, Corteva Agriscience, an agriculture division of DowDuPont, faced massive backlash over experiments that involved force-feeding fungicides to beagles, then killing them. After public outcry, the company agreed to end the tests and “make every effort to rehome” the remaining animals. However, a tweet from the Humane Society of the United States on Friday suggested that the nonprofit still had doubts about the company’s intentions.

CONVERSATIONS