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Labs are euthanizing thousands of mice in response to Coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of rodents are being euthanized (killed with carbon dioxide and necks broken just to make sure). PETA has called attention to the labs, blasting them as a 'killing spree'.

DAVID GRIMM: Faced with her lab’s imminent closure, Sunny Shin had already begun to fear she would have to euthanize large numbers of the mice she works on. Then, last Tuesday, the email came from her school’s vice provost of research. “In response to the public health crisis caused by COVID-19,” it read, “mouse/rodent users should cull their colonies as much as possible”… Shin, a microbial immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, had to deliver the bad news to her lab manager: Euthanize 200 mice—more than three-quarters of their research animals — as quickly as possible… “It was heartbreaking,” Shin says, “scientifically and emotionally.”

Shin’s lab isn’t alone. Last week, confronting the possibility of extreme animal care shortages and disruptions to research, universities across the country asked labs to think hard about the mice they actually need, to freeze the embryos of valuable or unique strains, and—in many cases—to cull the rest… Hopi Hoekstra, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, has already euthanized nearly half of her lab’s approximately 1000 mice…

As thousands of the rodents began to be euthanized — they are typically killed with carbon dioxide, and their necks are broken just to make sure — the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) first called attention to the efforts, blasting them as a “killing spree.” “Why are these animals—when the experiments were approved by the school’s oversight body—now so easily discarded?” asks Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president at the organization. “Experimenters are again choosing the path of convenience and simply killing animals who should never have been bought, bred, or experimented on in the first place.”

But the heads of major lab animal facilities say the efforts are needed to ensure both the safety of their staff and… given the possibility of veterinarians, technicians, and other workers getting sick or being forced to stay at home… At the moment, Science has not seen evidence that larger animals such as cats, dogs, or monkeys are being proactively euthanized — and PETA has not made that claim yet. Hutchinson says he expects that to remain the case. Unlike larger animals, he says, mice breed quickly and must be used quickly. And because they comprise about 95% of all research animals, they suck up the most money and time.  SOURCE…

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