Nearly 50,000 animals have reportedly been blown up, gassed or poisoned to death in the course of seven years at a top secret research laboratory belonging to the UK military, which is located near a town where an ex-Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent last year.
According to a report by the Sunday Mirror, about 48,400 animals of various kinds — including pigs, monkeys and guinea pigs — were killed in horrifically painful experiments at the notorious Porton-Down research lab belonging to Britain’s Ministry of Defense between 2010 and 2017.
The experiments saw researchers blow up pigs, infect monkeys with biological weapons and poison guinea pigs with nerve gas.
In one case, the researchers applied the VX nerve agent to the backs of guinea pigs to see how another chemical known as bioscavenger would change the effects. The animals, according to the report, were then observed and given a score for their symptoms, which included “gasping” and “writhing.”
Those animals that would not die at the end of the tests were killed and dissected, it added.
The laboratory’s conduct drew criticism from animal rights groups, with Animal Aid slamming the experiments for causing “extreme suffering and death” and calling them morally unconscionable. The NGO said the number of animals killed in the tests was “alarming.”
Porton Down was at the center of Britain’s probe into the use of a weapons-grade nerve agent in the Skirpal incident, which London claimed was produced in Russia but Moscow strongly denied.
The lab is located near Salisbury – the town where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent in March 2018.
Porton Down was the lab that ran tests to determine which never agent — Novichok — had been used on them. Moscow has said repeatedly that the nerve agent could have originated from the facility’s own experiments since it has historically dealt with such substances.
The UK blames Moscow for the attack, without presenting any credible evidence supporting the accusations.
The notorious lab was opened in 1916 to test weapons. At that time, it was called the War Department Experimental Station.
Over time, the lab changed its name several times as it started producing it own deadly weapons including nerve agents.