By Alka Chandna, Ph.D.
Animal experimenters from Canada's McGill University recently determined that mice--like humans and other mammals--make grimacing facial expressions when they are in pain. For the study, the ill-fated mice were videotaped after experimenters injected noxious chemicals into their abdomens, ankles, hands and feet; placed them on hot plates; placed their tails in hot water; clamped metal binder clips on the tips of their tails; and performed various surgeries on them without administering pain relief.
The results of the new study should bolster the argument that these animals suffer as we do and should not be treated like disposable laboratory equipment. Instead, the authors are ignoring the moral implications of their findings and will instead use the results as fodder for more dreadful pain experiments on animals. This is like subjecting a person to surgery without anesthesia just to pave the way for further surgeries with anesthesia. There's simply no good reason for it.
Mice and rats are mammals with nervous systems similar to our own. It's no secret that they feel pain, fear, loneliness and joy just as we do. These highly social animals communicate with each other using high-frequency sounds that are inaudible to the human ear. They become emotionally attached to each other, love their families and easily bond with human guardians. Male mice woo mates with high-pitched love songs. Infant rats giggle when they are tickled. Not only do rats express empathy when another rat or a human they know is in distress, they also exhibit altruism, putting themselves in harm's way rather than allowing another living being to suffer.