Spanish police said Monday they were investigating the animal testing laboratory Vivotecnia in Madrid. Undercover footage showed repeated cases of extreme animal cruelty. A senior staff member is seen drawing a face on a monkey’s genitals while he was pinned to a table.
Staff member threw dogs and rats and cut into animals without anesthesia, the video showed. They slapped monkeys on the head, screamed at them and pulled their fur.
Rabbits were struggling to get out of their restraint devices, fell out and suffered serious spinal injuries, the video released on Thursday by animal protection group Cruelty Free International showed.
“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.”
Vivotecnia tests chemicals used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries on monkeys, pigs, dogs, rabbits, mice and rats. Animals are forced to ingest or inhale chemical products until they get sick or die.
Cruelty Free International said the footage was taken by a whistleblower who worked at the facility between 2018 and 2020.
“This footage shows yet again the dark side of regulatory toxicity testing on animals,” Katy Taylor, Director of Science at Cruelty Free International, said in an online statement. “It is unthinkable that this should be happening in Europe,” she added.
Vivotecnia temporarily closed
Following the public outcry caused by the release of the footage, the Madrid regional government temporarily stopped activity at the animal testing facility. The animals who were still alive at the facility are being rehomed.
Cruelty Free International started a petition to close Vivotecnia permanently, which has been signed by almost 270,00 people (at the time this article was published).
The company’s phone number was no longer working on Monday, and its website was down for maintenance. In a statement shared by Spanish media, Vivotecnia chief executive Andres Konig said he was “shocked” at the images.
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 non-transparent world (animal testing), and it could be that this is happening regularly without us knowing,” PACMA president Laura Duarte told AFP.