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ANIMAL CRUELTY

‘Gratuitous cruelty’: Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab

Spanish police and prosecutors said Monday they were investigating an animal testing lab after undercover footage showed staff there tossing around, smacking and taunting dogs, pigs and other animals.

'Gratuitous cruelty': Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab
Handout: Cruelty Free International

“We were dismayed to see the images,” the head of the government’s directorate-general for animal protection, Sergio Garcia Torres, told AFP.

“It is a blatant case of animal abuse.”

Footage published Thursday by Cruelty Free International shows appears to show animals at the Vivotecnia animal testing facility being cut into apparently without having received anaesthetics.

Staff were also filmed swinging dogs and rats around and in one clip someone is drawing a face on a monkey’s genitals as the animal is pinned to a table.

The group said the footage was taken by a whistleblower who worked at the facility, which is on the outskirts of Madrid, between 2018 and 2020.

“There can be no doubt that such gratuitous cruelty causes unnecessary distress and suffering,” the animal rights group said in a statement.

“It is also unlawful.”

Police and public prosecutors said Monday they had opened separate investigations into Vivotecnia, which carries out experiments on animals for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

The company’s phone number was no longer working on Monday and its web site was down for maintenance.

In a statement cited by Spanish media, Vivotecnia chief executive Andres Konig said he was “shocked” at the images. But, he added, they did not “demonstrate the day-to-day reality at Vivotecnia”.

Following the outcry caused by the release of the footage, the Madrid regional government on Sunday temporarily halted activity at the animal testing facility.

Animal rights political party PACMA has filed a lawsuit against the managers of the company and urged the government to step up its supervision of animal testing.

“It’s a very opaque world and it could be that this is happening regularly without us knowing,” PACMA president Laura Duarte told AFP.

The Vivotecnia laboratory animals were examined by veterinarians and are being moved to other facilities.

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ANIMAL CRUELTY

Rescued tigers leave for new home in Spain after gruelling journey that nearly killed them

Five of nine tigers that narrowly survived a gruelling journey across Europe set off on Saturday for their new home at a Spanish animal refuge after weeks of recovery at a Polish zoo.

Rescued tigers leave for new home in Spain after gruelling journey that nearly killed them
Photos: AFP

“The tigers have left. We're very happy that in just 24 to 30 hours they will arrive,” said Malgorzata Chodyla, spokeswoman for the zoo in Poznan, western Poland.

Their destination is the Primadomus Wildlife Refuge in the southeastern Spanish town of Villena.

Chodyla said there was a brief scare, as two of the tigers did not want to sleep, despite the sedatives they were given.

“When the whole team has to enter the enclosure to carry out the tiger and it suddenly lifts its head up, those are some tense moments. But everything happened safely,” she told AFP.

She added that the vehicle had heating and the tigers had enough room to switch positions.

In late October, Polish border authorities found 10 emaciated and dehydrated big cats in the back of a truck taking them from Italy to a zoo in Russia's Dagestan Republic.

Polish prosecutors charged two Italian truck drivers and a Russian man believed to have organised the journey with animal abuse after the truck got stuck for days on Poland's border with Belarus.

Prosecutors also charged a Polish border service veterinarian for failing to properly examine the tigers when they first arrived at the Koroszczyn crossing, where one of them died.

The surviving nine tigers were taken to two Polish zoos.

The Poznan zoo described them as “emaciated, dehydrated, with sunken eyes, excrement stuck to their fur, urine burns, in a total state of stress, without the will or desire to live” when they were first discovered.

According to animal rights organisations, there are only between 3,200 and 3,900 tigers in the wild worldwide.

Another 7,000 are held in captivity, mainly in Asia.

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