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From England, with love for lab animals

Throughout institutions in India, a large number of dogs, frogs, cats, guinea pigs and other animals die to help humans learn anatomical functions, reports Avishek G Dastidar.

delhi Updated: Feb 22, 2008 01:40 IST
Avishek G Dastidar

Did you know that practical trainings in medicine and physiology take the lives of thousands of animals every year?

Throughout institutions in India, a large number of dogs, frogs, cats, guinea pigs and other animals die to help humans learn anatomical functions.

Now, a group of conservationists from England has come to India to put a stop to this age-old practice simply by replacing real animals with virtual ones.

Called Interniche, the global advocacy group is a non-profit organisation that makes free-to-use technologies to liberate animals from laboratories without hurting the progress of the sciences.

“There is no reason why millions of animals should be trapped and killed simply to teach medicine to humans. There are better and humane ways of achieving the same teaching objectives,” said the director of the organisation, Nick Jukes, who was in India on Wednesday to bring out an India Action Plan.

With the use of state-of-the-art computer graphics, Interniche has created thousands of digital simulation of dissections and surgeries so students get hands-on experience in pharmacology without compromising on the practical learning. The programmes are termed “From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse”.

It also has varieties of mannequins, which, when cut open, have real anatomical features with the “touch and feel”, too, being the closest to that of real animals. The repertoire has every animal, from frog and crab to dogfish, pigeon, freshwater mussels and the likes. And to the group plans to make its expertise available free of cost.