Animal rights activists are accusing a group of forensics researchers of the cruel and unnecessary killing of five pigs in New Zealand. Researchers at two public universities in New Zealand took part in a forensics study that involved shooting live pigs in the head in order to study blood spatter patterns, which they claim can help them learn about human injuries and help criminal cases. Experimenting on live animals in the name of science may not be as common as it once was, but advocates for animals are still working to end this cruel practice forever.

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According to the research study, published earlier this summer in the International Journal of Legal Medicine, five live pigs were strapped to a table and shot in the head at close range with a Glock semi-automatic handgun. The goal was to record the back-spatter of blood, bone, and brain material. The government-funded Institute of Environmental Science and Research defends the killings, saying the pigs were under sedation and treated humanely. The scientists conducting the experiments believe the information they gathered after shooting the pigs in the head could help in criminal cases.

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PETA is criticizing the research activities, saying the results are pretty much useless, since the anatomy of a pig is so different than that of a human. Forensic research would be better off, they say, using mannequins or computer models to simulate injuries to the human body. The animal rights group has sent letters to the university where the study was conducted and to the other which contributed research to the study in an attempt to convince them to stop carrying out experiments on live animals.

Keith Bedford, the general manager responsible for forensic science activities at the institute, said this particular type of experiment was rare and that most similar research actually does employ computer modeling and other types of simulation. He said the organization had no plans to carry out similar experiments using live animals. It seems certain that PETA will be paying close attention to monitor the truth of that statement.


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