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SHOCKING: New undercover investigation into top UK university reveals horrific animal suffering!

United Kingdom
This major new BUAV investigation has uncovered the appalling plight of animals in one of the UK’s leading universities, Imperial College London, ranked as eighth in the world.

This major new BUAV investigation has uncovered the appalling plight of animals in one of the UK’s leading universities, Imperial College London, ranked as eighth in the world. Behind the closed doors of this ‘world-leading university’, our investigator discovered a nightmare world for animals used in experiments: animals who suffered even more than necessary for an experiment and died 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 – all to the relentless blaring sounds of pop music.

Animal experiments at Imperial College London

Often with the radio blasting continuously in the research facility, rats and mice at Imperial College London were subjected to a range of distressing and painful experiments and tests, often causing them severe suffering.

The research 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. Animals could be starved for up to 48 hours, deprived of water for up to 23 hours, forced to run on treadmills to avoid electric shocks and be restrained while a long tube was forced down their throats and substances injected directly into their stomachs.

Whilst a simple description cannot adequately describe what it must be like to undergo these horrific procedures, our investigation has shed new light on the daily reality for animals in laboratories and the often terrifying ordeal they were forced to endure. The animal suffering was often severe and could include pain, distress, weeping or bleeding head or abdomen wounds, diarrhoea, lethargy, dermatitis over nearly half the body (leading to self-inflicted wounds) or hypothermia. Many died during or after the surgery; others had to be killed because of the level of their suffering.


The BUAV investigation at Imperial College London has uncovered many short-comings and wrong-doing by researchers and technicians at this world-leading university causing unnecessary distress and suffering to the animals in its care over and above what the experiments caused anyway.

From negligence and ineptitude, to breaches in and lack of knowledge about the project licences, time and again the animals bore the brunt of staff and researchers’ incompetence or indifference.

Animal Suffering

Inadequate use of anaesthesia and poor monitoring

Experiencing pain during surgery is many patients’ worst fear, but with a team of skilled medical staff monitoring the operation fortunately for most this is never more than an anxiety. Sadly the same cannot be said for animals at Imperial College London. Our investigation has raised serious questions regarding the standard of monitoring provided to animals under anaesthesia as well as the level of anaesthesia itself.

Researchers would often work alone, both monitoring anaesthesia and carrying out surgery simultaneously. Clearly this cannot be conducive to good animal welfare, especially if the surgery involves a high level of concentration like brain surgery. Our investigation uncovered a catalogue of shortcomings resulting in unnecessary animal suffering.

Poor post-operative care

Our investigation has also raised serious concerns about the level of monitoring and pain relief (analgesic) provided to animals recovering from major surgery and other procedures.

Animals were not monitored overnight – as would of course happen in any hospital or even veterinary hospital after such major surgery – and there was only a skeletal staff on duty at weekends.

One researcher, who had just finished surgery on a group of rats, said to the BUAV Investigator:
“Do you mind just checking these guys are still alive before you leave xxxx? Three of them survived so far. I did four actually, one died. And when you get in in the morning have another look. Sometimes one of them dies.”



When our investigator asked another researcher if she needed to monitor the mice after surgery, the researcher replied: “Yeah, I need to come down and check that they are alive and that’s about it.”

Concerns about the lack of pain relief provided for animals undergoing major surgery were even raised by the Deputy NVS.

‘Humane’ Killing

During our investigation at Imperial College London, the BUAV found disturbing evidence of the so-called ‘humane’ methods used to kill animals.

These included carbon dioxide poisoning in gas chambers, cervical dislocation where the animal’s neck was broken using the edge of a metal cage label holder or with mice by hand, and live decapitation – cutting off the animal’s head with scissors (infant rats) or guillotine (adult rats). On occasions pop music was playing loudly while this killing took place.

Imperial College’s own rules state, ‘Euthanasia is the humane killing of an animal without causing the animal any physical or psychological suffering.’ and ‘Animals must be handled quietly and gently to avoid causing them any distress.’

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View the Sunday Times article: (please note a payment has to be made to read the article in full).

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