Regional officials in Spain have temporarily halted all activity at an animal testing facility after the publication of undercover footage that appears to show animals being taunted, smacked, tossed around and cut into with no or inadequate anaesthesia.
Since 2000, Madrid-based contract research organisation Vivotecnia has carried out experiments on animals ranging from monkeys to mini pigs and rabbits for the biopharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic, tobacco and food industries. The facility has in the past secured funding from the EU and Spanish authorities for its projects.
Footage, published on Thursday by Cruelty Free International (CFI), shows what the organisation alleges to be “gratuitous cruelty and abuse”, appearing to show scissors being used to decapitate young rodents, dogs being thrown by the scruff of the neck into boxes or cages, and technicians shaking and swinging rats vigorously. The group said the footage was taken by a whistleblower who worked at the facility between 2018 and 2020.
On Sunday, Madrid’s regional government said it had suspended all activity at Vivotecnia after an inspection team visited the facility and confirmed “signs of animal mistreatment”.
After the footage was viewed on Thursday, an inspection of the facility was immediately ordered amid concern that the behaviour shown appeared to violate Spanish legislation regarding the treatment of animals in experiments.
“After verifying the facts, the research activities at the centre were immediately, temporarily suspended, and a ban was put in place on carrying out any new projects involving animals,” the regional government said in a statement. Officials are also in contact with police animal protection services in the event that any of the findings from the facility could constitute a criminal offence, it added.
The animals found at the facility are now under the care and supervision of the regional government and are being looked after by an on-site veterinarian.