Austrian activists protest experiments testing avalanche survival by burying pigs in snow
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 deaths.
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 beforehand.
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 the tests.
"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..