Animal Testing is More Than Just #SaveRalph

Save Ralph Film Poster © Wikipedia

Some people feel and some people think. Some cried, some said #SaveRalph is fear mongering. I myself cried — however, my introverted thinking self feels the need to seek more about animal testing. Which is why I’m writing this.

The short film by The Humane Society International portrays the life of a rabbit who had to undergo animal testing for cosmetic products. The half blind eye, half ringing ear and shaved skin were illustrated to show how rabbits had to be injured in the name of beauty. In the film, Ralph the rabbit also said that all of his family has died from going through the same thing. From this, I conclude that some rabbits and animals in general are indeed bred just for the sake of laboratory purposes.

Which is not wrong, as said in one Stanford Medicine article, most animals needed for testing specifically are bred and usually rodents. By most, it is estimated that about twenty million rats and mice are used each year in the US. Compared to twenty thousand rabbits used each year. Meanwhile dogs, cats and nonhuman primates make up 1% of testing needs.

First of all, scientists don’t do animal testing for no reason. The first ever vaccine was successfully developed thanks to the contribution of cows, as well as dogs, monkeys and mice which has helped proven the effectiveness of polio vax. Primates, not to be forgotten, also made the cure to serious illness like Alzheimer’s and malaria possible.

Many contradictory arguments believe that animals are different to human, therefore animal testing makes no sense. This argument has been countered thousand times by the scientific fact that animals and human DNA are alike. On so many articles on the internet, you’ll find out that mice share 98% of our DNA and chimpanzees share 99%. Most internal organs in mammals are also human-like.

Still and all, almost 96% of animal testing failed, not applicable to human. Not to mention thousands of children in the 1950s and 1960s had to be born with missing or shortened limbs, as the result of Thalidomide taken by mothers to treat morning sickness, despite the drug being proven to have successfully tested on several animal species.

While the researchers in Stanford Medicine — a highly reliable and relevant research center — claim to pay attention to animal welfare and strictly follow the regulatory guidelines of animal testing, no one can guarantee that thousands other labs do the same, even USDA’s Animal Welfare Act. As 95% of the animals used for testing are not included in the law, activists question whether this is an initial act of exploitation.

But, is it possible for science to advance with no animal involved? I would say no. Even if the answer is yes, progress would be very slow.

So, does that justify animal cruelty on animal testing? Definitely, the answer is also a No.

Regardless the impossibility of completely eliminating animal testing in the field, alternatives like cell cultures, human tissues, computer models and volunteering (according to Cruelty Free International) are always available — alternatives will be alternatives, though.

Left: Cruelty Free International; Middle: PETA, USA; Right: Choose Cruelty Free, Australia.

With animal testing ban being a priority among animal activists and has been applied in 40 countries as of now, many brands have started to label themselves with “No Animal Testing” and “Cruelty Free.” Brands with no such labels tend to be boycotted.

The #SaveRalph “trend” yesterday result in boycotts to those brands. Though some said #SaveRalph is just a way to bring certain brands down, it still doesn’t erase the fact that there are animals out there suffering in the hand of humans just for us to live comfortably.

To end this, I don’t really want to influence anyone to be pro/cons in a way. But I do have a question that I think is necessary to be asked:
If there are possible ways to reduce a creature’s pain, why should we justify and side with ways that don’t?

17. A student and aspiring photographer. I want to work on National Geographic or UNICEF.