VIENNA (AP) - Vehement protests by animal rights activists
prompted scientists on Thursday to temporarily stop an avalanche
experiment that involved burying pigs in snow and monitoring their
The two-week experiment - taking place in the Western Austrian
Alps - was trying to determine what factors make it possible for
humans to survive an avalanche in an air pocket until rescued
without suffering permanent brain damage.
Hermann Brugger, co-director of the experiment led by the
Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine in Bolzano, Italy, and the
Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, asserted the pigs didn't
suffer because they were sedated and given an anesthetic
But activists called it cruel and pointless.
Following protests Thursday, Herbert Lochs, director of the
Medical University of Innsbruck, confirmed the experiment had been
halted temporarily due to the massive media interest sparked by the
activists' protests. A total of 29 animals had been selected for
"It is absolutely unacceptable that these highly sensitive,
helpless animals are killed for such an unnecessary test," said
Johanna Stadler, head of the group Four Paws.
"People are shocked and outraged that such cruel experiments
can even be carried out in Austria," said Gerda Matias, president
of the International Union of Animal Experiment Opponents.
In a statement posted on the Medical University of Innsbruck's
Web site, organizers said the experiment was ethically justifiable
and had been approved by a commission in Austria's Science and
Brugger, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press,
said the study could help humans survive an avalanche and that
stopping now would mean that those pigs that already died did so in
"We want to save lives, that's the only goal of this study,"
he said in an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF.
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