BOOKS: From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2004:

From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse:
Alternative Methods for a Progressive, Humane Education (2nd edition)
by Nick Jukes and Mihnea Chiuia
InterNICHE (19 Brookhouse Ave. , Leicester LE2 0JE, U.K.), 2003.
520 pages, paperback. (Pricing: contact <>.

From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse addresses teachers whose
disciplines traditionally involve animal experiments. The book will
also help students who do not wish to take part in animal
experiments, and animal advocates who are campaigning against animal
experimentation in education.
The authors investigate aspects of the “3R” concept. The
original “3R” curriculum, emphasized in basic education, was
“Reading, Writing, Arithmetic.” In 1959 British authors William
Russell and Rex Burch proposed that in science the “3R” concept
should be “Refine, Reduce, Replace,” meaning that the numbers of
animal experiments done should be drastically reduced, and that
painful and invasive experiments should be replaced or refined to use
fewer animals.
Much of From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse catalogs
alternatives to animal tests in education. More than 500
alternatives suitable for teaching anatomy, physiology, surgery,
and other disciplines are briefly reviewed. Ten chapters describe
products specific to common curriculums.

Strategic alternatives to animal experiments include using oneself as
the subject; working with the cells of plants; field study and
observation; non-invasive use of animals; operating only on animals
who need the treatment, under appropriate supervision; and the use
of “ethically sourced” animal remains, by which editor Nick Jukes
means the remains of animals who have died from natural causes or an
accident, or who were euthanized to relieve suffering from a
terminal disease or serious non-recoverable injury.
Technical alternatives include the use of videos and
multimedia computer simulations, which provide students with the
theoretical background of a discipline, and prepare students for
practical work, as well as devices such as models, mannekins,
simulators, and more advanced computer programs which completely
replace the use of animals.
The new edition of From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse differs
from the 1997 first edition chiefly in describing more alternatives,
with extensive new entries on”Alternative methods and curricular
transformation” and “Case studies.”
Included are examples of application of the “3R” concept throughout
university departments.
The Department of Physiology at the University of Adelaide,
Australia, for instance, has abandoned the traditional animal-based
practical teaching classes formerly required of second-year students
of dentistry, medicine, and science. Students now learn
problem-solving strategies by conducting semester-long human-based
research projects.
The Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, in
Massachusetts, has replaced the use of healthy animals in anatomy
classes by obtaining–with guardian consent–donations of the remains
of companion animals who are euthanised for health reasons. The
program works through a reciprocal arrangement with local veterinary
Drastic post-Soviet cuts in state subsidies for education
crippled the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University in Ukraine,
along with hundreds of other institutions, which have had difficulty
paying their staff in recent years, with no money left to invest in
new equipment. However, Taras Shevchenko University has succeeded
in replacing all use of animals in teaching physiology and anatomy
through the help of SOS Animals Ukraine and the Royal SPCA of Britain.
The authors of From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse are aware of
the financial constraints that many universities work under,
especially in developing nations. “Ethically-sourced cadavers,
clinical work, and student self-experimentation can all be done with
existing resources which are sometimes free,” Jukes told the
reviewer. “Some multimedia software is available free on the Internet
or from producers, and some is low cost. There are even freeware
physiology and pharmacology programs, complete with a well-equipped
virtual laboratory, and InterNICHE has been involved in supporting
production of these within Eastern Europe and India. A CD-ROM we
funded has directly replaced the use of more than 1000 animals in
just one Romanian physiology department.”
From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse is being translated into 12
languages, including Portuguese, French and Russian. A CD-rom
version is in planning.
Editors Nick Jukes and Mihnea Chiuia are the coordinator and
alternatives advisor for the International Network for Humane
Education, a.k.a. InterNICHE (formerly EuroNICHE). Both live in
Other contributors include Jonathan Balcombe, Hans Braun,
Gary Johnston, Shirley Johnston, Amarendhra Kumar, Gill Langley,
Mykola Makarchuk, Lara Marie Rasmussen, R. Ashley Robinson, Garry
Scroop, Daniel Smeak, and Henk van Wilgenburg.
–Tanya Maroueva

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