The British government have funded controversial research where thousands of animals have been deliberately infected with deadly diseases such as Ebola and the plague, it has been revealed.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) tested 4124 monkeys, pigs, rabbits and guinea pigs last year – all of which died during the process at the Porton Down laboratory in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Previous experiments carried out at the laboratory include pigs being blown up or exposed to lethal chemical warfare agents such as phosgene and sulphur mustard, and marmosets infected with anthrax and guinea pigs poisoned with toxic nerve agents.
Animal rights group Cruelty Free International claim details of these warfare experiments are not included in annual animal-testing statistics published by the Home Office meaning many people will have no idea the suffering is taking place.
But the figures reveal there were 3,411 mice, 223 rats, 323 guinea pigs, 100 pigs and 67 non-human primates were tested on in just one year.
That equals more than 11 animals being tested and dying every day.
Katy Taylor director of science at animal rights charity Cruelty Free International, said: “We believe the public will be as horrified as we are to learn the full extent of the suffering inflicted upon thousands of animals every year in these disturbing tests.
“Although Cruelty Free International supports the need to ensure the safety of soldiers and civilians, we do not believe that subjecting animals to such grotesque experiments is the way to achieve this.”
The gruesome testing has seen mice injected with human blood, forced into small restraint tubes and forced to inhale bacteria that causes the pneumonic plague.
They were observed for two weeks to see how fast they succumbed to the deadly disease and either died or were killed at the point of death.
Another sickening test saw marmoset monkeys suffer bleeding eyes, rashes and difficulty breathing after they were tortured to death for up to ten days by researchers studying haemorrhagic fever.
Ebola researchers infected 18 genetically modified mice with the disease and split them into three groups.
Only one group received treatment, while the others slowly died seven to eight days later.
They showed signs of extreme suffering including blindness, weight loss, hunched posture and ruffled fur.
Treatment for military wounds was researched by cutting open the front legs of white rabbits to expose their muscles.
A section of the muscle was then held in a clamp, which drops a weight onto the muscle to severely damage it to mimic battlefield injuries.
The muscle was then smeared with bacteria to generate infection.
They were dressed with bandages containing either silver, iodine or Makuna honey to see the effect of the dressings, despite all already being available to buy.
Chinese pig-tailed macaques monkeys were imported to the site and infected with Tuberculosis and monitored for six months.
Some had previously been vaccinated but those who didn’t all developed the disease and had to be culled early.
The surviving animals were killed at the end of the study so their tissues could be dissected foranalysis.
Cruelty Free International claim similar studies have already been done, as they questioned the need for the MoD tests.
While they support measures to improve the safety of soldiers and civilians, the campaign group is calling for investment in humane testing alternatives to prevent avoidable animal cruelty.
The MoD, said they were working to reduce the numbers of animals used.
A spokesperson said: “Research by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has saved the lives of British troops and also benefits civilians.
“This research is undertaken to improve the care of severely injured military and civilian casualties, and simply could not have been conducted without using animals.”