AIIMS flouts animal testing rules
The AIIMS is excellent as a hospital. As a premier research institute, however, it may have disregarded rules in its treatment of animals kept for testing as rabbits go blind; monkeys and rats suffer ‘nervous breakdown’ in enclosures. Jaya Shroff Bhalla reports. See video | video 2 | video 3delhi Updated: Oct 07, 2008 22:47 IST
Sixty-eight monkeys, 90 rabbits, several sheep and ever-multiplying guinea pigs and rats — most are believed to be sick and dying in small cages at AIIMS’s central animal facility. See video
Fifty of the 90 rabbits are suffering from an infectious skin disease, and several including a few guinea pigs have gone blind.
Physical trauma apart, after years of captivity and lack of fresh air many monkeys and rats have gone over the edge: they spend their day going around in circles in their cages — called “nervous breakdown”.
All this information and a video were provided to Hindustan Times by a person who says he/she was allowed unrestricted access to the facility for several days recently.
The video was surreptitiously shot with a mobile phone hanging from the neck.The Hindustan Times tried to check out the details first hand but its reporter was denied access. Dr Pardeep Yadav, senior veterinary officer at the facility, said permission to enter could only be given by deputy director Dr Sailesh Yadav, who was out of station.
When asked about the ill and dying animals at the facility, he said, “These are lies. All the animals are healthy and are doing well.”
Monkey number 2287 is a 22-year-old female. She is the oldest at the center, coming in when she was only three. A neighbour, Monkey number 2617, is just as old and they each have a two-feet by-two-feet enclosure for home. Both should have been freed many years ago.
Using animals for medical research and testing drugs is permitted.But it is covered by well laid down rules to protect animals from abuse. Video
According to the guidelines laid down by the Committee for Purpose of Control and Supervision on Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA), of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, no animal should be used for experimentation for more than three years unless there is adequate justification. But there is none, for holding 2287 and 2617.
The guidelines also say all animals should be observed for signs of illness, injury or abnormal behaviour. And this must be done daily. Animals showing signs of contagious disease must be quickly isolated from the rest. Hindustan Times has been told, with supporting figures, that none of these rules is being enforced at the facility.
And then there is callousness.
A laboratory technician with no special training in animal care told the person who shot the video, "These are small animals. It does not matter if they die."