Four Experiments on Bunnies That You Can Help Stop

Posted by on April 11, 2020 | Permalink

Rabbits purr when they’re happy and jump into the air when excited, yet humans torment hundreds of thousands of them each year in European Union laboratories.


Humans take advantage of rabbits’ mild temperament. Experimenters find them easy to handle, confine, and breed and subject them to lives filled with pain and fear in laboratories. But experimenting on animals is bad science, and the results can even be dangerous if applied to humans.

In 2017 in the EU, more than 350,000 of these gentle, sentient beings were used in experiments. Here are some examples of the ways rabbits are tormented in laboratories and how you can help them:

  1. Dishwashing Liquid Is Applied to Their Eyes

    Despite the availability of humane, human-relevant, and more effective methods, rabbits are still tormented in the notorious Draize eye-irritation test in which experimenters may apply dishwashing liquid, drain cleaner, and other substances to their eyes.

    We all know the discomfort and pain that occur when something is in our eyes, but who can even imagine the agony of chemicals being applied directly to them? The eyes of rabbits used in this test may become red or swollen and may bleed, and some may even go blind. After the experiment is over, the rabbits are killed.

    Another variation of this cruelty is the skin irritation and corrosion test. Even though internationally accepted non-animal methods exist, experimenters shave rabbits’ backs and apply potentially corrosive chemicals to their skin, leaving them there for up to four hours and observing the effects for up to two weeks. The chemicals can burn the skin, leading to ulcers, bleeding, bloody scabs, and scars. After it’s finished, all the rabbits are killed.

  2. They Are Injected With Substances in Order to Induce Breathing Problems, Organ Failure, or Fatal Shock

    Used since the 1940s, the rabbit pyrogen test (RPT) is archaic and misleading. Experimenters restrain rabbits, inject them with a test substance, and monitor their body temperature for changes. Those who are forced to endure the RPT can develop fever, breathing problems, circulatory and organ failure, and even fatal shock.

    Despite its long history, the RPT has never been formally validated to establish its reliability or relevance to humans. In fact, there are a number of well-documented drawbacks to this test, including marked differences between rabbit and human responses to pyrogens.

    The RPT should be replaced with modern, human-relevant, and reliable non-animal methods, such as the cell-based monocyte activation test.

  3. They Are Repeatedly Force-Fed Chemicals

    In repeat-dose toxicity (RDT) tests, rabbits are repeatedly force-fed chemicals for weeks or months at a time. Experimenters restrain them, insert a syringe or force-feeding tube down their throat and into their stomach, and administer a potentially toxic chemical directly into the stomach. The chemicals can cause pain, swelling, bleeding, tremors, organ failure, and death as they damage the animals’ liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, nervous system, and other body parts.

    RDT tests are cruel and stressful for rabbits, who are prey animals and would naturally hide as much as possible if they were sick or in pain. The chemicals they’re force-fed make them sicker and sicker, until they’re eventually killed and dissected.

  4. They Are Force-fed Chemicals During Pregnancy and Killed Before Their Babies Are Even Born

    Developmental toxicity tests attempt to assess the effect that a substance has on the development of offspring. During these tests, experimenters administer a substance to rabbits throughout gestation using the same invasive process described above. Just prior to giving birth, the mothers are killed and their babies are dissected. The chemicals can cause birth defects, miscarriages, and suffering in the mothers and their unborn young.

There Is No Valid Justification for These Experiments

Animal experiments aren’t just morally indefensible – they’re also scientifically flawed. It is very difficult and not reliable to take results from tests on animals and apply them to humans because of biological, physiological, and metabolic differences between species. Feeding a healthy animal a toxic chemical just to see what happens, keeping him or her in an unnatural and stressful environment, and then trying to apply test results to humans is a dubious practice, at best.

Modern, Non-Animal Methods Are Available

There are better ways than animal tests to develop new medicines and treatments and to protect human health and the environment. The use of human clinical and epidemiological studies, human tissue– and cell–based research methods, cadavers, sophisticated high-fidelity human-patient simulators, and computational models is more reliable, precise, and humane than using animal experiments.

Will You Help Rabbits?

You can help stop the torment that rabbits endure in laboratories by taking a stand against the use of archaic and useless experiments. Sign these action alerts to help rabbits suffering in horrific experiments or killed for their fur: