We’ve heard plenty of stories in the last few days of tax dollars funding lavish Las Vegas vacations for government agencies and prostitution scandals in the Secret Service. But these are all peanuts compared to the amount of your money being dished out for weird vivisection experiments.
In Defense of Animals has produced its Top Ten list of “most ridiculous” research projects. Here’s a summary:
10: A grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to study what happens when you inject rats’ knees with a substance that causes arthritis.
The result: The rats got arthritis.
9. Two grants from the National Institute of Mental Health for an study of anxiety. The “scientists” put rats in an open space with nowhere to hide and then did things to traumatize them.
The result: The rats became more anxious.
8. Three grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to study family relationships in prairie voles.
The result: When you take the father away from the family, the children are less well cared for.
7. Three grants from the National Institutes of Health to see the effect on the sex lives of hamsters when you put them on a diet.
The result: The hamsters were more interested in food than sex.
6. Two grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders to see what happens if you cut some nerves that connect taste buds to the brain and leave the bitter-taste nerves intact. This involves slitting the throats of rats and puncturing their eardrums to reach the nerves.
The result: The rats had to learn other ways of avoiding things that tasted bitter.
5. A K12 career development grant to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center to see whether empathy makes chimpanzees more likely to catch a yawn from familiar chimpanzees than strangers.
The result: It does.
4. Two grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders to study alligator voices. At the University of Utah, they implanted pressure sensors in the tracheas of young alligators and ran a cable through their throats, fixing it to their upper jaws with duct tape.
The result: They discovered that alligators have only two ways of changing the frequency of their voices, whereas mammals have three.
3. Two grants from the National Institute of Mental Health to several laboratories to discover whether marmosets can become sexually aroused through association with a particular scent, e.g. lemons.
The result: Yes.
2. Two grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to Albany Medical College to see how drug use affects the musical preferences of rats. Rats who preferred Beethoven’s "Fur Elise" over Miles Davis’s "Four" and preferred silence over any music at all were given cocaine at the same time as their least preferred options.
The result: The rats then switched their preference to whichever music went with the cocaine.
1. And the Number One ridiculous, painful, stressful, expensive, bizarre experiment performed on animals with your tax dollars: Seven grants from the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of keeping animals in vivisection laboratories.
Researchers at Tulane National Primate Research Center acknowledged that daily uncontrollable stress is a basic part of an animal’s life in a laboratory, regardless even of which experiments are performed on them. In their words: "It is widely accepted that procedures that are performed as part of routine husbandry have the potential to affect both physiological and behavioral parameters that are associated with stress."