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Rodents given alcohol at taxpayer-funded lab to test if drunk men will cheat on their partners

Prairie voles were provided with alcohol equivalent to 15 bottles of wine a day, chained in plastic shoebox-sized cages, bound to cell walls and forced to fight each other before all 150 were killed, along with the fetuses of pregnant females.

STACY LIBERATORE: Shocking footage exclusively obtained by reveals the conditions suffered by animals at a taxpayer-funded lab in Oregon. Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) provided prairie voles with alcohol equivalent to 15 bottles of wine a day and chained to cages as part of studies dubbed ‘innocuous’ and ‘cruelty for the sake of cruelty’ by experts with PETA. The studies – published in November 2017 – aimed to determine if men are more likely to cheat on their partners while drunk using rodent models. And these tests received funding of $3 million from taxpayers.

It saw the animals confined in plastic shoebox-sized cages, bound to cell walls and forced to fight each other before all 150 were killed, along with the fetuses of pregnant females. PETA Vice President Dr Alka Chanda told ‘The experiment didn’t help anyone or advance scientific knowledge. ‘The $3 million used to fund tests could have gone directly to people who suffer from alcoholism.’

PETA became aware of the research when a press release surfaced detailing OHSU’s Partner Preference tests, which describes how male and female voles were given free access to alcohol-spiked water. The video shows rows of small, plastic cages with two animals inside that have access to two bottles – one with alcohol and the other provided water.

Oregon Live reported that ‘some voles drank so much they staggered and fell and had trouble getting back on their feet.’ The experiments, published in the journal Frontiers of Psychiatry, describe 150 voles paired together for a week, allowing them to form bonds and mate. The female was then chained to one side of the cage, while a female ‘stranger’ to the other… The intoxicated male vole was dropped into the cage, able to roam freely, as investigators monitored how long it spent huddled with each female. Chandna explained that the researchers were not looking to see if the male mated with either female but how long the male spent huddling with its partner and the stranger…

In another test, a male vole ‘intruder’ was dropped into a cage occupied by a ‘resident’ male to see if the two would fight over territory. One vole climbs on the other and appears to gnaw at its head. And they are both looking for a way out of the cage. A male vole is in a small cage and a researcher lowers another inside. The pair immediately began to attack each other – head butting and punting each other to the sides of the cage… Their fur is standing up and they lunge at each other with mouths open.

‘The theory around the intruder test is that a male who is more bonded to his ‘partner’ will be more aggressive in protecting his territory against ‘intruders’, said Chandna. ‘And so when the experimenters dropped an ‘intruder’ into a cage where a male was held, they would then count how many times the ‘resident’ male would attack, chase, lunge at, or bite the ‘intruder.’ Those markers for aggression were intended to also indicate how bonded the male was to his female partner. After the experiments concluded, the researchers euthanized the 150 voles to dissect their brains and fetus pulled from females, as noted in the study.

One issue that comes from this, according to Chandna, is that voles are prey for large animals like foxes and coyotes, so inhibiting their ability to move in the cage ‘triggers a response of fear.’ ‘Voles are prey animals, so for females to be tethered is cruel because it proves unimaginable fear in those animals,’ she told…

PETA had approached the researchers to obtain the videos, but was told no evidence existed. However, Oregon is one of the many US states with public records laws – state-funded labs must provide the public with documents and media upon request – absent certain exceptions. An email exchange between Chandna and Reba Kuske, who is the public records Coordinator at OHSU, in February 2018 shows the university ‘confirmed there [were] no photographs and/or video footage available.’

Another email, dated October 22, 2018, shows that experimenter ‘Dr. Andrey Ryabinin confirmed the videos of resident-intruder test (as well as the partner preference test) are not available because these experiments were performed at the Veterans Administration Hospital.’ This statement would mean that OHSU did not own the videos and was not liable to hand them over to PETA. has contacted Ryabinin for comment. PETA filed a suit in 2020 after OHSU refused to comply with the group’s public records request. SOURCE…


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