Protesters gather against Otago animal testing facility

Protesters gather against Otago animal testing facility

Protesters gathered in Dunedin on Saturday to challenge the construction of a new $50 million animal lab at University of Otago.

The Anti-Vivisection Society says the university killed more than 11,000 animals for research last year alone, and that not only is animal research cruel, it doesn't work.

"We believe that animal-based research is not the most relevant or applicable research method when it comes to finding cures for humans," says Tara Jackson of the Anti-Vivisection Society.

Earlier this week the protesters hung 11,000 hearts at the university to represent every animal killed in the research lab last year.

The main reason for Saturday's protest was public awareness.

"As we've progressed through this campaign, we've noticed that more and more people aren't even aware that there's a current animal lab in Dunedin, let alone a whole new one being built," says Ms Jackson.

Protestors say a new method needs to be found.

"It's not producing the data we need to solve human health issues. Alternatives are needed. There are currently three universities working on these alternatives," says protester Carl Scott.

"Nine out of 10 animal tests fail. So I'm not just here for the animals; I'm here for proper human-based medical progression," says protester Charlotte Drene.

University of Otago tests on animals for research and educational purposes.

"They use rats, mice, guinea pigs, cows, sheep, pigs, possums, pigeons, birds, fish," says Ms Jackson.

University of Otago says it welcomes the discussion, but animal-based research is vital for medical and scientific advances.

A spokesperson says all such research goes through a strict ethics approval process. They forbid the testing of products on animals and they do support alternatives to animal-based research when feasible.