Two months after animal-rights activists broke into an animal facility at the University of Milan and removed hundreds of animals, photographs of many of the mice have appeared on the Facebook page of one of the protestors’ supporters who uses the pen name Jooleea Carleenee.
The raid took place on 20 April. Researchers at the university said that they lost years of their work along with the animals, most of which were genetically modified mice serving as models for disease. They said that they did not expect mutants that were particularly delicate, or immunosuppressed ‘nude’ mice, to survive outside controlled laboratory conditions.
Carleenee says that she posted the pictures to show that the animals were still alive. But the images of the overcrowded and uncontrolled conditions in which the mice appear to have been kept in her home have fuelled a new row, with scientists posting angry comments, complaining of cruelty.
Daria Giovannoni, president of the pro-science lobby group Pro-Test Italia, says: “If these photos show the actual conditions of the stolen mice, we’re seriously concerned about their well-being and health: we don’t think that these animals are faring better now than when they were in the laboratory.”
The raid on 20 April spurred the nascent Pro-Test Italia — modelled on UK and US Pro-Test organizations — to action. It arranged a series of demonstrations by scientists in defence of their work on animals.
UPDATE: 28 June, 2013 We have been contacted by Jooleea Carleenee who requests that we report that the mice are now being kept in humane conditions and that the pictures showed only a temporary situation when the mice arrived with her.