MADRID authorities have suspended activities at a scientific research facility in Spain after activists exposed animal testing involving “gratuitous cruelty and abuse”.

The regional government of Madrid suspended work at Vivotecnia, an independent European toxicology contract research organisation based Spain’s capital while it investigates reports of animal cruelty.

Undercover footage recorded by a whistleblower and published by Cruelty Free International (CFI) last week appeared to show workers carrying out acts of cruelty against the animals in their care, including cutting the heads of rodents with scissors and swinging rats through the air to stun them into submission.

The research facility carries out testing on animals including monkeys, dogs, pigs, rats, mice and rabbits for the biopharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic, tobacco and food industries.

But CFI uncovered  evidence that animals were routinely verbally and physically abused and that technicians used “appalling levels of bad practice during experiments leading to injuries and death”.

The evidence reveals standards that violate the rules governing how animals in laboratories should be housed and handled as well as procedures carried out without sedation and anaesthesia, said the charity.

Madrid authorities said they were working with the animal protection arm of the Guardia Civil, Seprona in investigating the cruelty allegations and made a commitment to rehome the animals there.  

Some 234,000 people signed a petition calling for the closure of Vivotechnia since Thursday.

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