Jane’s letter on footage of animal testing in a German laboratory

Written By: Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder, Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
Category: Dr. Jane

This is Jane Goodall.

Comments on footage of animal testing in a German laboratory.

Recent undercover footage from animal advocacy groups offer revealing insights into what is occurring in a biomedical laboratory in Hamburg, Germany. The footage shows some of the worst abuse I’ve ever seen on testing with animals.

The video footage shows how primates, dogs and cats are kept in small, barren steel cages, with no environmental enrichment. Some of the dogs were lying on cement floors with what appeared to be blood smears, while others were leaping up at the cages, barking. Some were caged alone. All the cats appeared to be caged alone. One shot showed a cat, held forcefully while blood was extracted.

Some of the monkeys were lying huddled on the wire floor of their tiny prisons, while other showed stereotypic behaviour, turning in circles, pacing fast back and forth indicative of extremely high levels of stress. Some cowered at the approach of a human showing pronounced fear response and sometimes screaming. Each monkey had a metal collar around the neck. When taken from their cages for various experimental procedures a metal pole was hooked onto this collar and the victim was pulled forcefully out, the handler gripped the tail, and they were then forced into restraining chairs. One monkey who struggled desperately against this inhumane treatment had his or her head banged against the bars of a cage by the lab assistant. As the monkeys were exposed to the screams of fear of those being handled in this way, this increased the level of fear. There was no indication of rewards handed out once the monkey was in the chair. Some shots showed monkeys forced to stand upright, legs tied together and arms outstretched, virtually crucified. One shot showed a monkey’s mouth being forced open while a tube was pushed down into the stomach and liquid injected into the tube.

We can only guess what effect the substances have that are forcefully injected into these animals, but several dogs appeared to have dragged themselves bleeding through their cages, to lie alone on a cold, tiled floor. Some, it seemed, died as a result of these treatments. The overall impression left by this film footage suggests that their treatment means nothing less than systematic abuse for these animals.

The footage has not been made in a small, obscure enterprise operating, far away from any legal regulations, in a remote corner of the world. The LPT Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology GmbH & Co. KG works within one of the leading and most wealthy member states of the European Union. LPT presents itself as “an excellent and experienced partner in the area of contract research in accordance with national and international guidelines”. With more than 50 years of experience, LPT claims to perform “studies of prime quality covering all aspects of in vivo and in vitro toxicology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.”

The world of animal testing in laboratories is surrounded by secrecy. Certainly in this laboratory considering the way the animals are housed and handled, the abuse they are subjected to, and the way the experiments are carried out, this is not surprising. Every now and then video footage of this sort reaches the outside world and confirms what many fear is happening behind closed doors.

Whether the procedures that happen in the Hamburg laboratory meets legal requirements or not, it clearly fails fundamental ethical standards of how we should treat animals. It has been conclusively shown by groups such as “Doctors Against Animal Experimentation” that there is little scientific evidence to justify the use of animals in research that is supposed to benefit humans, but even if this was not so there could be absolutely no justification for the way the animals are treated in this lab. There has been sufficient evidence to show that lab animals certainly feel pain and, in the case of the monkeys, dogs and cats shown in this video, are both sentient and sapient.

It is unfortunate that there’s a lack of support within the EU and elsewhere across the world to develop alternatives to animal testing (such as cell culture, tissue culture, modelling) which have been proven to be more reliable. Only a minuscule fraction of the billions spent by governments and corporations for Research & Development are invested in the development of such alternatives.

In summary, what I have seen in this video is some of the most callous, inhumane and brutal behaviour by humans towards the primates, dogs and cats kept at this laboratory. It is nothing but living hell. Such a situation does not belong in the 21st century and must be stopped. No more invasive biomedical testing should be performed on sentient and complex animals like primates, dogs and cats. Even rats have been proved highly intelligent and capable of feeling fear and pain.

Animals can’t talk for themselves, so we need to be their voices and bring their plight out into the daylight.

Since Dr. Goodall published this letter in October 2019, there has been widespread media coverage and an active petition condemning LPT’s practice of animal testing. It has recently been announced that the laboratory in question will now be closing, however, there are still two LPT sites operating in Germany and public demonstrations are planned to campaign for closing these locations where animal testing is still taking place.

Photo credit: Brittany Gawley