'We have a responsibility to be kind' to lab animals: Expert

Updated: 2016-01-17 18:24

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai(chinadaily.com.cn)

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In a serene garden on the outskirts of Shanghai, stands a special memorial that bears a plaque in both Chinese and English that reads: "Dedicated to the memory of the laboratory animals that devoted themselves to biomedical science".

Although tributes of this sort have become the norm in many other parts of the world, this memorial was the first of its kind in China. It was erected in 2002, when the Shanghai Laboratory Animals Center, a branch of the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, moved to its current site in the municipality's suburban Songjiang district. When it was founded in 1982, the original center, in the city's downtown area, was one of the first three laboratory animal centers in the country.

Monuments have now been erected at universities and institutes where animals are used in laboratory research, including Yangzhou University in Jiangsu province, Northwest University in Shaanxi province and Shenyang Medical College in Liaoning province.

Liao Kan, assistant to the director of the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, said laboratory animals act as a crucial base for research and development in the fields of bioscience and medicine. They are a bridge between theory and clinical experience.

"They exchange their lives for the development of human health, and in return we respect and commemorate their lives," he said.

On Tomb-sweeping Day, a traditional annual Chinese festival when people visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects, it is common to see laboratory staff at the center spontaneously lay bunches of flowers in front of the animals' memorial.

"Every member of staff has received training regarding the ethical treatment of laboratory animals. Everybody is clear that, as scientists, we have a responsibility to be kind to these animals," Liao said.