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Avalanche experiment pigs are saved

By David Rogers

Scientists have abandoned an experiment in which pigs were buried alive in snow and left to die after protests from animal lovers.

Researchers in the Austrian Alps wanted to study the effects of being caught in an avalanche and chose pigs because of their biological similarity to humans.

Some were completely submerged and others were buried up to the neck, and the time they took to die recorded.

But the teams from the Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine in Italy and the Medical University of Innsbruck, Tyrol, stopped the tests after killing ten of 29 pigs because of public outrage.

The Austrian Association of Animal Protection said: "The scientists should bury themselves, and their colleagues can analyse the results."

And the local mountain rescue association pointed out that it was already known that avalanches were "dangerous to life".

Activists called the experiment cruel and pointless.

Johanna Stadler, head of the animal rights group Vier Pfoten (Four Paws), said: "It is absolutely unacceptable that these highly sensitive, helpless animals are killed for such an unnecessary test."

And Gerda Matias, president of the International Union of Animal Experiment Opponents, added: "People are shocked and outraged that such cruel experiments can even be carried out in Austria."

A statement posted on the Medical University of Innsbruck's website, organisers said the experiment was ethically justifiable and had been approved by a commission in Austria's Science and Research Ministry.

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