The term lab rat, is deeply ingrained in our culture, but most people don’t think too much about it. In fact, many of us grew up on the children’s cartoon Pinky and The Brain, which featured two laboratory animals who were the victims of experimentation, regularly plotting to escape their horrid circumstances, only to wind up back in the cage at the end of each episode. When we are taught to laugh at the suffering of animals, is it then any wonder that we are so desensitized to the plight of these living, feeling creatures?
New research is revealing that all animals, even rodents, feel both stress and pain in the same ways that humans do. In fact, the 8th World Congress on Animals and Alternatives in the Sciences revealed that caged rodents are so sensitive to stress, that simply moving them from one location to the next raises their heart rates and cortisol levels (a stress-related hormone) for weeks. While this may not be news for some, this is discovery is particularly important to the research community, where experiments and surgeries on lab animals are often performed without pain medicine of any kind.
In fact, rats are highly intelligent and emotional animals who share many traits in common with dogs. Those who have cared for a rat as a pet know that these little animals are capable of learning tricks, they’re very clean and enjoy nothing more than curling up to snuggle with their humans. Yet, because we only think of these animals for the “purpose” the serve in a lab, most never see these abilities.
To bring awareness to the plight of these amazing animals, a new monument was recently unveiled in Russia, to honor the millions of lab rats who have given their lives for humanity.
Cruelty, in any form is never ok. Everything that lives feels and everything that feels suffers. The suffering of lab animals has been ignored for too long, but hopefully, new research and public awareness will help to change that in the future.
Image source: Imgur