OREM — The animal care facility in UVU's new science building is under the microscope. The facility contains two holding rooms and a procedure room, and is a portal for future animal research at UVU.
The animal care facility will give students more educational oportunities and could help UVU obtain research grants. There are some, however, who are concerned about the possible lack of transparency and the mistreatment of animals.
“First of all, that building is going to be there for the next 50-75 years,” said Mark Bracken, the biology department chairman. He explained that the university does not plan on using the room for animal research right now, or anytime soon.
“We are anticipating that in some point of time that there may be some animal research that does occur,” Bracken said.
Bracken explained that UVU has evolved rather quickly in the past 15 years. He also explained that the school does not have a large enough facility to do research, and if it did, it would be very limited. Bracken also indicated the goals of the university could evolve into more research and finding grants.
The anticipation of future animal research at UVU has raised concerns.
“The problem is, it’s too much of a temptation for science departments to start testing on animals,” said Karen Mizell, associate chair of the philosophy department.
According to Mizell, if the science department were to consider doing animal testing in the future, it would have to convene an animal care review committee, and currently UVU does not have one.
“I’ve had real concerns,” Mizell said. “Even if people right now aren’t going to do it, someone is going to come in and want to do it.”
“Between Hollywood and a lack of information, sometimes an impression people have is that animals are not treated as humanely as we could possibly do it and I do not agree with that,” said Dr. Heather Wilson, an associate professor of the biology department.
Wilson explained that she was against animal research before she became a scientist. She mentioned when she had done research at different schools in the past, every effort was made to ensure the animals were being treated properly.
According to Wilson, most of her students currently do their lab work on a computer.
However, the new animal care facility would give students the opportunity to work with animals. Wilson said her students were excited to hear about the new facility.
Chris Foster, a philosophy professor on campus said he is not in favor of animal research. He is in favor of complete transparency in the animal care facility.
“I’d be a lot happier,” Foster said.
He also suggested that cameras be put in the labs and inspections be conducted on a regular basis.
“I love my university, but I hope that doesn’t mean that we turn to the way of others universities in terms of researching on non-human animals,” Foster said. “I hope to remain proud of my university as an ethics centered school.”
Dr. Virginia Bayer, assistant professor of biology, outlined several projects they are considering in the near future.
“We have some animals that we’d like to do some breeding projects on to try to increase their numbers,” Bayer said.
She explained they are trying to help endangered animals. The Blue-Eyed Blonde California King Snake and the Standing’s Day gecko are some of the reptiles the department hopes to help breed.
“The goal of the facility is to increase awareness about conservation efforts,” Bayer said.
Bayer said they plan to use the room to showcase animals that are endangered and to discuss issues as to why they have become endangered, and what can be done to help the animals.
“UVU is predominately a teaching institution, so we are not a tier-one research institution. Research capabilities at this point are essentially non-existent,” Bayer said. “The only thing anyone could get upset with, are the animals being housed incorrectly. As far as anyone is concerned for animal welfare, I think we are meeting all the needs for that.”
Emily Stephenson is a young freelance journalist, trying to obtain experience in all realms of media. Contact her at [email protected]