The following is the full account of what one student experienced.
Our group signed in at the front security room holding four security men in uniform. No mobile phones were allowed on site so they were all handed in. We were given ‘visitor’ lanyards and we were allowed our bags in with us.
We got taken into the office side first, it is built like a maze, corridors everywhere! A lot of people were working in the offices, a lot of men in suits.
We were given a short brief about how ‘you can ask any question and we’ll answer it except for obviously; 1. What product they are testing and we would know anyway because they are just codes at the moment. 2. What company the product belongs to.’
After that we were split into two groups as ‘the animal rooms are quite small’. They mentioned a group of girls and a group of boys, but I needed my best friend in with me just to cope with the fact I was there. So I mentioned that I would need him with me, so my friend, the girls and I were in a group, and all the other boys were in a group, with one teacher from my college each.
There was a debate that one group (the boys group) would see the foetal development section, and we would see the ‘w’ rooms. At this point I asked if both groups could see both departments for an all round fair view of the place. Suddenly three of the members of staff started talking at me about how ‘we wish there was time for you to see it all’ and ‘I have to go at half twelve and I would like to be with you all’.
We were then taken to get changed into ‘the suits’.
We were split into boy and girl groups to change; I had three other girls to change with and the women that took us. The changing rooms were small, old looking and a bit dirty. There was a shower and basin facility.
We were told to take of all of our clothes except our underwear and put on the plastic white boiler suits given to us. Two of the girls’ boiler suits ripped so they wore the workers blue fabric boiler suits.
We were given a hair net, gloves and a face mask to wear and had to go through an ‘air shower’ to get into the lab space.
We waited around for a while to see ‘what rooms are being used so we can see something happening’. While this went on a lot of the workers came past, and I noticed they were nearly ALL women.
Eventually we got taken into a room with rats which were being ‘dosed’. A woman sat there working alone in a room full of cages of rats. (there was no supervision, no CCTV and the workers ‘usually worked alone’) This was the first shock of the day for me. Three in a cage, white rats with red eyes, one by one being put into an old ice cream container and scanned then the information was on the computer screen (which was really OLD) then a tube was quickly shoved down their throats with the chemical in. We were told there are always four different sets of animals and they were labeled by colours. The white labels were the animals dosed with a placebo. While we were in this room, they were dosing the pink labeled rats. The approximate date that this test started was about a month ago, I saw.
We were then led into a rabbit room, and were told that they usually never have rabbits in this department. They were ‘being bled’ and while they were, they were held in a plastic contraption, that almost looked like a guillotine, apparently this method ‘is rarely used and usually another member of staff holds the rabbit and strokes it’ while the blood is taken from ‘a very delicate vain in the ear’.
I took this chance to look into the cages of the other rabbits in the room and found a curious and horrifying thing wrapped in a white plastic bag in one of the cages. I presume this was a dead rabbit. I saw another cage and in it I didn’t find a pure white rabbit like the other cages, I found a rabbit covered in blood, she looked like she was bleeding from her mouth and she was cleaning her paws smearing the blood over the rest of her face. I started to cry a little but my face mask covered this. I was angry so I decided to ask some questions to ‘Calvin’ as he spoke of what was tested here. He stated that cosmetics were illegal to test in the UK so I asked if sun cream lotion? Anti dandruff shampoo? Deodorant? Were classed as cosmetics?’
He looked a little panicked and was quickly assisted by the women that was also with us, who stated that ‘cosmetics is anything that is non medical’.
The conversation moved on to what type of animals that were tested on at Sequani, and I asked if they used sheep.
‘Umm yes you can test on sheep and a lot of other animals but we don’t have them here’ Calvin replied. He was a bit hesitant and maybe he didn’t know what they had at Sequani.
We then covered the topic of how ‘some animals show different reactions to a product’ and Calvin surprisingly used the Formaldehyde in rats example.
‘This is why we need to test on two species, as it may not show the signs we want in only one species’ ‘So, why are you still using rats if they don’t show the same reaction?’ I said
‘Rats give the reaction we want and need on certain products but not on others that’s why we use such a wide range of animals.’
I got the feeling that he was referring to a reaction they want and need to tick the correct boxes.
The bottoms of the rabbit’s cages were disgustingly filthy, and the faeces did NOT look fresh. In fact the whole room looked dirty with stains on the walls and the floor was dirty. Actually thinking back, the whole building looked old and worn and grubby.
We then went back to change back into our own clothes then taken into another unit where we ‘could see stained skeletons of foetuses that we’ve tested and analyzed after the mother has been testing a product’.
These animals mothers were killed just as they came to term with their babies, the babies were then taken out and examined, killed, and then a post mortem would take place.
The old welsh women in a lab coat told me that ‘this procedure takes place in nearly all product testing, they would use about forty animals, mate them, wait until they came to term and then euthanize and take the babies’. (Each litter would be about six so we’re looking at about 240 animals)
I took a look at the stained skeletons and the smell of the formaldehyde was sickening.
Spinal bifida, holes in the skull were just two of the skeletons ‘problems’ that had been caused by the product tested.
I looked around at the office environment and I noticed that at first site it looks like a lab, but when you looked closer, the technology was ancient. The computers were about fifteen years old, and all the lab equipment was no different.
After a brief talk we were then taken into another unit where all we could hear was dogs barking and yelping. And also pigs screaming which was worse than a crying child, the noise was shrill and went right through you. You truly felt the terror in their screams.
But we were jokingly told that they were ‘picky animals, the pigs, they just scream at you if you try to pick them up’.
I couldn’t help feeling they had obviously been through some serious enough stress to lose trust in their ‘carers’.
We were re-suited up again, this time in green fabric boiler suits, shoe covers, hair nets, face masks, and oddly, ear plugs. ‘The noise is very loud’ said the woman.
We were then led through a series of off-white corridors, the floors again were dirty and the walls had stains on. We came into a long corridor where we saw bins labeled ‘pig toys’ and ‘dog toys’ and other things. They were sealed shut.
We were told we were first going into the room with the ‘new smaller beagles who have just been acclimatizing as they’ve come in from America’ and to ‘be careful the room hasn’t been cleaned yet today’.
The dogs were ecstatic that we were in there. Wagging tails and barking, jumping around. Absolutely beautiful animals and to think this is their only life, and what a short ‘life’ that would be. It truly broke my heart how starved of affection they were, and how nervous they looked.
I realised that the cages were disgusting, there was urine all over the floor, faeces everywhere. I cried, openly I cried for one of the first times in my life. In front of strangers. I gave as much affection as I possibly could to all of the dogs, stroking two at a time. The dogs I was with tried to push their whole bodies through the bars of the kennel just to get to me, and just to get out.
The woman we were with let a dog out so another girl could hold it, and it also dawned on me how intelligent these beings are. You could tell just by looking at its facial expression, they would do anything not to go back in their cages.
We got moved on into the ‘bigger beagles’ who had been dosed for about three months now.
Now, as I said in the last room, the dogs were noisy, bouncing around and lively, well when we entered the next room, it was practically silent.
A scared dog barked at the far end, but other than that, they were all quivering in the corner of their kennels. They were all absolutely terrified of us. If you made eye contact with them, they would shake and move further away. I managed to stroke one, then realised the animal had an abscess on its leg, about the size of a golf ball, and he kept gagging. At this point my face was soaked in tears. I couldn’t bare it so I walked to the other kennels.
I found a dog pacing as if in a psychotic trance, bounding round and round his cell, just trying to escape the terror that he thought I would inflict on him.
The floors were cleaner in this room, but one dog was dribbling and vomiting all on me and his kennel floor.
The difference in these two rooms was astonishing. You could tell straight away which dogs were healthy and which dogs had been dosed.
We were told that ‘the pigs are being cleaned so we can go in there’.
Mini-pigs, normal looking pigs the size of small dogs. ‘Used in exactly the same way dogs are used’ so why do you use them if you use dogs?
The pigs we saw were being used in ‘dermatological tests’, ‘that’s why they have those little jackets on to stop them rubbing the substance off’. The ‘little jackets’ were like bandages and the pigs also had a black collar on and a large yellow tag through their ear.
Now I thought the dog rooms were dirty, but the pig room was absolutely disgusting. Pig faeces, urine all over the floor, no clean space for the pigs to be. One pig had an anal abscess and their trotters looked infected. Usually, pigs are clean animals, but these were in such a depressing state.
One pig was foaming at the mouth and another was repeatedly banging his head against the cage door. Their tail skin was bloody and so was the skin around there eyes.
I was numb by this point and had to move to the next section.
We were then told that lunch was ready for us in the main office building. I wasn’t particularly hungry at this point, as you can imagine, but everyone else was.
We got changed into our normal clothes again, and went into the main room to discuss over lunch. At this point the tour was over. I was unbelievably tired and had a huge headache, a bright red face and my mascara all over my face.
My time inside Sequani was the worst experience of my life, I am disgusted that we can use animals that trust us in such horrific ways.
Stop Sequani Press contact:
Phone: 01452 539673