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Dec 20, 2013 07:07 AM EST

Newcastle University to Stop Baboon Experiments Following Public Outcry

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Following public pressure, Newcastle University has decided to stop conducting 'disturbing' experiments on wild baboons caught in from Kenya.

"We are committed to excellent standards of animal welfare and to the principles of the '3Rs' in our medical research. This is why we will be stopping the research in Kenya and reviewing all our overseas research involving animals," a University spokesman said, Huffington Post reports.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and some celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley and Chris Packham accused the university for repeatedly violating animal welfare rights.

The violations occurred during the 'Stroke Research Project'. It was revealed though an undercover operation. The researchers are accused of conducting invasive brain surgeries on the baboons and placing them in 'barren metal cages' at the Institute of Primate Research with no food and water.

"The individual's head was placed into a stereotaxic frame and held in place whilst the skull was drilled open and parts of the brain removed," the BUAV said. "The animals were kept alive under anaesthetic for many hours while tests were carried out before being killed."

The BUAV claimed that the university dishonoured international guidelines that prohibit overseas experiments on wild primates. A petition was launched by the Union to pressurize the university into denouncing from conducting such experiments on baboons caught in the wild.

"Researchers from Newcastle University are bypassing UK law and are travelling to Kenya to use wild-caught baboons in disturbing and highly invasive experiments," the petition read.

In their defense, Professor Stuart Baker, the lead researcher of the project said that the experiments were conducted to determine new treatments for stroke patients. Baker denied violating any British law. He further said that the ban was irrelevant to his work in Africa because the baboons are not in danger of extinction and are caught humanely, Daily Mail UK reports.

Sarah Kite, BUAV director of special projects, said the organization is happy with the university's decision to halt its overseas experiments.

"Our investigation caused a public outcry; people have been shocked and repulsed by our findings and it is only right that the University should respond in this way. It makes a mockery of UK law if researchers can use public funds to go overseas to carry out horrific research on wild-caught primates that would not be allowed in the UK," Kite said.

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