Stop The Otago Animal Lab

Otago University has announced that they are going to build a new $50 million animal laboratory.

In 2015 alone Otago Uni used 13,563 animals, the vast majority (11,352) were killed.

Animals have been suffering at this campus for years! The university should be ending animal-based research, not endorsing and solidifying it for decades to come.


What do we need?

- Medical treatments that work for humans.

- Safe drugs and medicines.

- A better future for both animals and humans.

Animal-based research is not an accurate, reliable or effective way to achieve any of these!

We, along with the thousands of voiceless animals and the many people suffering from cancer, diabetes and other illnesses need your help!

Sign our petition to the University of Otago telling them that you want their plans to build a new animal lab to stop immediately!

Let them know that there is opposition to their outdated plan and that the $50 million would be better spent being invested in the best available – human-based research for human diseases.


Sign the petition now!

Note: The petition is at the top right-hand side of this page
You can also print out physical copies of the petition here


The University of Otago announced that they were planning on building this new lab in June, 2016. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie, stated that “the [new] facility would future-proof the university’s position as a leading scientific institution”.

But the reality is that the continuation of animal-based research while striving to be a leading scientific institution is an oxymoron. If the deputy vice-chancellor for research and enterprise truly wants Otago University to be a leading scientific institution, then supporting the most relevant and advanced research is vital – this is human-based research!

Otago Daily Times coverage of the announcement is here.



Otago University Claims Vs Reality 

Otago University would like you to believe that this new facility will “advance research in areas including cancer, diabetes, obesity, fertility and neuroscience”.

Reality: Animals can’t predict the human response because of the various genetic, physiological metabolic and psychological differences between species i.e. we are not 70kg mice. 

Research using animals for advancing research into diabetes hasn’t worked for humans. In 2006, the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) announced that after over thirty years of experiments on mice and rats , researchers discovered that the internal structure and function of the human pancreatic islet cell, which is central to the development of diabetes, are dramatically different from that in the “well-studied rodent”. DRI now consider the use of the rodent model as “no longer relevant for human studies”. They state:

“We can no longer rely on studies on mice and rats. It is now imperative that we focus on human islets. At the end of the day, it is the only way to understand how they function.”

Read more

Research using animals for advancing research into cancer hasn’t worked for humans. The use of mice for cancer research has been going on for over forty years and it has developed many cures for cancers in mice but it is not producing corresponding results in humans.

“We cure cancer in mice and rats… we do it all the time, but these animal models are not human beings. Human beings are much more complex.” – Dr Patric Schiltz, cancer researcher

Read more

Not only is animal based research holding us back from finding potential cures but it is also harming humans. The most famous example is the thalidomide example which left over 10,000 babies deformed. This happened because animal experiments didn’t accurately predict the human response. Here is a whole list of cases where animal research has failed to identify human reactions. 

The University has also emphasised that this new facility will provide the “highest standard of care” for the animals used in research”.

Reality: Despite this leading you to believe that the laboratory animals will live a life free from pain, fear and harm, the reality is these animals are treated as nothing more than disposable laboratory tools.

Keep in mind that this is the same university that shot live pigs in the head to study blood spatter patterns, even though pigs are fundamentally different to humans, especially in regards to their skull. Read more here

To say you will treat animals humanely and then conduct invasive experiments on them is nothing but ironic. ‏

 What we want‏!

The University of Otago, and New Zealand science would be much better advanced by the $50 million being spent to develop a new facility embracing human-based research methods. Otago should be investing in the best 21st-century technology available rather than entrenching the failed and outdated reliance on animal models.‏

We want the University to make a decision to move away from animal-based research instead of solidifying it for another 50 years.

We advocate human-based research, which involves using sophisticated tests that use human cells and tissues, advanced computer-modelling techniques and studies with human volunteers, like micro-dosing.

There are some amazing non-animal methods that exist that are more reliable and accurate than animal tests, including organ on a chip and living, metabolically active 3D tissue models.

The University could be using a facility like the John Hopkins Centre for Alternatives as a model to work towards instead of committing to a future of more unreliable and irrelevant animal experimentation.

A recent example of human-based research being more successful than animal methods is the new HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate that was developed by looking at people that naturally don’t progress to AIDS from HIV. Researchers expect that this would work in around 95% of people. Decades of work has already been done to try and develop a vaccine for HIV using primates. Researchers have found over 100 vaccines that worked in chimpanzees and not one of these worked in humans. Imagine how much more advanced we would be and how many lives could have been saved, if we hadn’t wasted all of that time and resources on animal-based research. 

There are a lot of organisations around the world that are working hard doing non-animal based research to develop medicines, drugs and new ways of testing the safety of these products. Such examples are AltToxWYSS InstituteMatTek and ARDF.

To read more on non-animal/human based methods go here.

The SPCA has also spoken out against the facility being built. SPCA New Zealand Chief Executive Ric Odom stated:

“There are now viable alternatives – including the use of cell, tissue, and organ cultures, human volunteers and computer modelling – that should enable New Zealand institutions to be actively reducing the amount of experimentation carried out on sentient animals rather than ramping it up.”

Read more here



Sign the petition

Sign the petition to help this campaign

To the University of Otago,

We, as tax payers who help fund your facility and advocates for the best and most relevant science, urgently ask that you stop the construction of the new Animal Laboratory at Otago University, immediately.

We ask that the University of Otago instead spend the $50 million to develop a new facility embracing human-based research methods. We think Otago University and New Zealand science, would be much better advanced by investing in the best 21st century technology available rather than entrenching the failed and outdated reliance on animal models.

Please make the right decision for the future of human health and the well-being of thousands of animals.


Stop the Otago Animal Lab Campaign Update!
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