Latrobe Lambs: saved from imminent death

In October 2012, HRA was made aware of a situation at LaTrobe University whereby a number of lambs used in a study to determine the effect of different feeds on fat, muscle and wool growth. (Animal Nutrition AGR2AN).    After completion of the experiment the university was considering the slaughter of the animals rather than offering them to appropriate care.

After being contacted by LaTrobe student, Allison Drinkwater, reputable animal sanctuary, Edgar's Mission offered to ensure that these animals were provided with necessary accommodation, however the university seemed determined to kill the animals regardless.  

These animals were being denied a chance of life due to the stubborn, or some would say illogical decision by an Animal Ethics Committee. 

Despite the vigilance and perseverance of Allison and Pam Ahern (Edgar’s Mission) and in response to protests from students and animal welfare groups, LaTrobe advised that a report on the animal ethics committee's findings had been prepared and the lambs would “be disposed of at a later date. The ethics committee [wa]s aware of the offer from Edgar's Mission.” 

The fact that the university was even considering sending these lambs to an abattoir despite the offer by Edgar’s Mission clearly showed how some ethics committees are failing in their duty to consider the wellbeing of animals and merely regard them as commodities. They ignored the pleas of students and animal welfare advocates to save these lambs and there was no logical reason to deny them sanctuary at Edgar’s Mission.

Thanks to the continued pressure from students and other animal advocates (including members of HRA) the lambs were eventually sold and surrendered to Edgar’s Mission.

“The animal rights club NAPS worked tirelessly to convince La Trobe University to give the lambs up to good homes, instead of being returned to the meat industry. We went through months of letter writing, meetings and petitioning to argue for the lives of the 20 lambs involved in the experiment. We were countered by arguments of potential future injury or the health problems of old age. It was a long, tough battle but eventually we convinced them of our cause.

NAPS has yet to hear the outcome of our efforts in regards to the continuation of this experiment in future years, but we will continue to do our best to ensure it is replaced with something more ethical. 

I couldn’t have done it without the support of my fellow students and encouragement from other animal rights advocates. It is a real challenge to put forward ideas as a minority, but it is worth every day of agony to make the difference for even one animal. I encourage everyone to speak up and fight for what is right and support those around you that are trying.”
- Allison Drinkwater

From Edgar's Mission -

“The sheep literally jumped for joy as we lowered the tailgate of the float. Springing high into the air, it was as if they knew they had been saved,” said Edgar's Mission Founder and Director, Pam Ahern, reflecting upon the sheep’s arrival at the sanctuary. It didn’t take long for the individual personalities of the sheep to shine through. Some were cheeky and bold like little Spartacus while others, like Mascara (who has rather unusual black lines around his eyes), were somewhat shy or aloof. But all quickly developed a taste for wheetbix treats and would come racing up the hill whenever they saw their human friends approaching with a box of their favourite snack. Today several of the sheep still remain at the sanctuary, while others have been rehomed as pets to loving families. Each and everyone is living true to their rescuers’ pledge of, “You are safe now.”

Whilst the research the sheep were involved in was of a non-invasive nature, the animals were confined within a shed with very restricted movement and limited social contact. A grated floor was their only bedding material and no direct exposure to sunlight available. These conditions could hardly mirror the real life environments in which the sheep (naturally grazing animals) would normally encounter. It seemed then a harsh reward indeed that at project’s end, the sheep were to be killed and not surrendered to an animal sanctuary to live out their days.

Sadly, the same research was conducted the following year but the University would not return our phones calls and refused all offers (including financial) of sanctuary life for the sheep.

© 2016 Humane Research Australia (ABN 17 208 630 818)  Terms & Conditions