The University of Otago has been harming animals to 'teach' students for a very long time. This is not new.
But as the shift towards humane education becomes more and more prominent, it is even more shocking to the public that the University of Otago still chooses to harm animals in this way. It is not in the best interest of students to teach like this, and it is most certainly not in the best interest of the animals that suffer and die.
The University of Otago used a minimum of 911 animals for teaching in 2016. We know the number is higher than that for a multitude of reasons, one of these being that animals/body parts used for dissection exercises that were sourced from elsewhere e.g. slaughterhouse, are not included in this figure as they do not require approval from an Animal Ethics Committee.
Also in 2016, the university announced that they were starting construction on a new animal laboratory estimating $50'000'000, which NZAVS and thousands of the public opposed and still do. Despite the huge public outcry and even physical protests, Otago decided to proceed. The building process has had many delays, and is currently planned to open middle of next year (2020.) We continue to closely monitor this disturbing situation.
We have spent a lot of time in the last 12 months, focused on the University of Otago's choice to harm animals for teaching purposes. We have read hundreds of pages of teaching applications to their Animal Ethics Committee requesting approval to use animals for teaching purposes. We have had continuous communications with the university, often through their Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie on this topic. We have been solution-based, presenting information to Otago about why teaching students with animals this way is not a good option and have tried to show them humane education methods they could be using instead.
The University of Otago has been given every opportunity to work with NZAVS to implement positive changes at their institute. We want them to become Humane Educators, and that means they must no longer harmfully use animals for teaching purposes. But to help them get the ball rolling, we have firstly asked a simple request, will the University of Otago agree and commit to not partaking in the killing of animals for the purpose of animal dissection teaching exercises?
If they say YES, their answer will show us that they are finally willing to make a small (and long overdue) positive change, and although it may be small, it is a good starting place and we are willing to assist them with this.
If they say NO, their answer proves what many of the public already suspect - that they pretend to care about animals and won't put their money where their mouth is. This will show Aotearoa and the rest of the world that they are stuck in the past and unable to make a progressive change for both animals and students.
We are hopeful that the University of Otago will see the merit for this first small change and be as excited as we are to make this happen. The clock is counting down until we receive a response. Let's see if they make the right decision.
Read about Otago's response here.
Do you feel passionately about the animals currently suffering and dying at Otago's hands? You can do your part and stand up for them - sign our petition today to show the University of Otago that people care!