Researchers in New Zealand who secured live pigs to a surgical table and shot them in the head with a pistol as part of a study on blood-spatter patterns acted cruelly – an animal rights group has said.
The government-funded Institute of Environmental Science and Research said the pigs were sedated and treated humanely – adding that their analysis was important in understanding deaths of humans by shooting and could help in criminal cases.
The study published in July in the International Journal of Legal Medicine involved researchers from the institute as well as two of New Zealand’s public universities. It describes how five pigs were shot from close range with a Glock semi-automatic handgun to record the back-spatter of blood – bone and brain material.
The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the experiment was unnecessary because pigs are fundamentally different from humans and better results could be achieved using mannequins or computer modeling.
‘These incredibly violent experiments are entirely indefensible – given their cruelty – inapplicability to humans and the superior non-animal research methods that are available’ said Justin Goodman – the animal rights group’s US director of laboratory investigations.
The group has sent letters to the institute as well as the University of Otago where the study was conducted and the University of Auckland which contributed research – urging them to stop such experiments.
Goodman said using live animals for forensic science experiments is not as common as it used to be.