When disaster strikes, those truths emerge from the rubble, if only for a moment. Last week at least a million mice were killed around the world, as research ran its normal course. But the few that drowned on Monday didn't die the way the others do, in experiments and testing. The mice at NYU were sacrificed not for health or human curiosity, but for convenience, secrecy, and shame
Now the scientists will mourn their missing data, and all the years of grant money that will not be fully recompensed. But they will also miss their animals, in ways that may outstrip the necessities of science. "We got very attached to these animals, because we work every single day with them," said one neurobiologist in Houston back in 2001. "They've become our pets … they react to their names. It's very painful." Hundreds of U.T. staff members attended a memorial service for the animals that drowned; some availed themselves of grief counseling in the months that followed. But however fierce are their regrets, the facts remain the same: Animal research is underground, and it shouldn't be.
*Correction, Nov. 1, 2012: The article originally stated that the flooding occurred at Baylor University. (Return.)