Breaking investigation once again reveals shocking cruelty and abuse faced by animals in European laboratory

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Toxicity testing on animals at Vivotecnia, Spain

A breaking investigation released by Cruelty Free International once again reveals the extreme suffering and cruelty endured by animals in Europe’s laboratories.

Here is what was found at Vivotecnia, a contract testing facility in Madrid, Spain by a whistle-blower who had been employed at the site. Vivotecnia conducts product safety studies for the cosmetic, chemical and agrochemical industries The animals used at the facility include monkeys, pigs, dogs, rabbits, mice and rats.

  • Deliberate acts of gratuitous cruelty towards animals, including smacking and shaking.
  • Taunting and mocking animals who were stressed and suffering, including those who were being killed or who were dying.
  • Appalling techniques and bad practice inflicting even greater suffering and death, including no or inadequate anaesthesia.
  • Poor handling and restraint of animals, leading to rabbits suffering spinal injuries.
  • Animals killed in the presence of others of their kind.
  • Systemic breaches of Spanish and EU law. 

Toxicity testing involves dosing animals to see how much of a chemical or drug it takes to cause serious harm, in an attempt to measure what a ‘safe’ dose for humans might be. Groups of animals are injected with or forced to ingest or inhale increasing amounts of a substance to measure the toxic effects which can be severe and include vomiting, internal bleeding, respiratory distress, fever, weight loss, lethargy, skin problems, organ failure and even death. No anaesthetics or pain relief are provided. 

Because each species of animal often reacts differently to the same substance and the reaction in human beings may be totally different, the tests are, we believe, also unreliable predictors for safe and effective drugs for humans. 

Rabbit Skin Toxicity Testing


The whistle-blower’s footage shows animals taunted and abused. We see a senior staff member  drawing a face on a monkey’s genitals as the animal is pinned to the table and his blood taken; we see dogs and rats swung around and animals cut into without anaesthesia. The video shows young monkeys physically restrained, no sedation provided to reduce their anxiety; monkeys slapped on the head, their fur pulled and sworn at for struggling. We see rabbits struggling in their restraint devices, falling out and suffering serious spinal injuries.

There can be no doubt that such gratuitous cruelty causes unnecessary distress and suffering. It is also unlawful.


The evidence we are publishing reveals yet again the chasm between the rhetoric and the reality of life for animals in laboratories.

Here’s what Vivotecnia claims on its website:

The welfare of animals used for research purposes is of paramount relevance for Vivotecnia, and also the strict compliance and respect to the current legislation on the protection of animals used in research and for other scientific purposes, including education. Our aim is to achieve the highest standards in animal welfare, not only from the point of view of our moral responsibility on them but also because we are convinced we could not achieve research excellence without proper animal welfare. Our experiments with animals follow the legal standard and are assessed by an Ethics Committee on Animal Experimentation that promotes the use of alternative methods, the reduction in the number of animals used and the refinement in the experimental protocols applied. Not a single research project requiring the use of animals could start without the appropriate and required Ethics assessment and the eventual authorization from the competent authorities.

All Vivotecnia work procedures are in adherence to EU Directive (2010/63/UE) and Spanish Regulation (RD 53/2013).


We believe Vivotecnia is systematically in breach of European law governing the use of animals in scientific procedures and of Spanish law. These breaches include:

  • The cruel behaviour of some members of staff towards the animals.
  • Dogs often separated from their cage mates in badly maintained, barren housing with no toys or bedding, no regular exercise programmes.
  • Pigs housed in tiers in a dark room on a hard, slatted floor with no resting areas, no bedding and no enrichment.
  • Inappropriate handling techniques used for picking up and restraining animals, for example animals picked up by the scruff of the neck, ears and tail.
  • Animals routinely suffering more then they needed to as a result of the sub-standard practices used in procedures such as oral gavage and blood collection.
Beagle in Cage at Vivotecnia

We are calling for the Madrid authorities to immediately revoke Vivotecnia’s licence to carry out experiments and the closure of the facility.

We are also demanding an urgent review by the European Union of all toxicity testing and an action plan plotting a roadmap to bring animal testing to an end.

With your support, we will fight to shut down this facility and those like it for good. We won’t rest until no animal suffers in a laboratory again. 

This footage shows yet again the dark side of regulatory toxicity testing on animals. We have uncovered an horrendous mixture of suffering and cruelty in the way animals are housed, handled and abused in toxicity tests as well as countless breaches of Spanish and EU legislation. It is unthinkable that this should be happening in Europe. The European Commission tells us that Directive 2010/63 not only protects animals used in science but that it also provides a strategy to replace animal testing. It does neither.

Our Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs, Dr Katy Taylor