The plight of the three blind mice in the well-known nursery rhyme pales in comparison to the millions of mice that are bred, experimented on, and sold to other laboratories each year by The Jackson Laboratory (JAX). JAX genetically manipulates mice to develop cancerous tumors, obesity, depressed immune systems, anxiety, depression, and other debilitating ailments. Some mice are even bred to become paralyzed in one or more limbs.
JAX’s treatment of these animals, including tests it conducts for other companies and universities, would be considered cruelty under animal welfare laws if it occurred outside of a laboratory. Animals are force-fed experimental chemicals, and memory testing involves forcing mice to swim in opaque water and find a hidden platform to avoid drowning. Other mice are subjected to pain reflex tests on hot plates heated to 131 degrees to measure their response to extreme heat.
Mice purchased from JAX by other facilities endure addiction to drugs and then forced withdrawal, which includes headshakes, body tremors, involuntary paw tremors, and writhing. These animals have also sustained severe burns and repeated electroshocks. JAX has even induced strokes, seizures, and spinal cord damage in mice sold to other labs.
In 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) verified PETA’s whistleblower allegations of incompetence and neglect at JAX. The tips of mice’s tails were torn off, and cages containing mice slated for euthanasia were severely crowded, worsening the animals’ suffering. There were also chronic problems with leaking water bottles, resulting in soaked cages that compromised the welfare of the animals inside. Additionally, JAX’s record of violating federal guidelines is appalling, as evidenced by documents obtained by PETA through the Freedom of Information Act. Mice have died from suffocation, starvation, and dehydration when left in precarious situations, and live mice have been found in the carcass bins of freezers meant for dead animals.
Mice are highly intelligent, social, and sensitive animals who suffer immensely in experiments. Unfortunately, they, along with rats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and “agricultural animals” used in agricultural experimentation, are not protected under the Animal Welfare Act.
Despite receiving tens of millions of dollars in funding from NIH, including over $60 million in 2015 alone, JAX continues to engage in cruel and abusive experiments on mice. NIH must stop funding these inhumane practices and redirect that money toward the development of superior, non-animal testing methods.