US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has joined a number of physicians, scientists and veterinarians urging the Council of Agriculture to refrain from rabies experiments on beagles, the US nonprofit organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) said.
DeGeneres is one of a few high-profile champions recruited to the campaign.
The council had said after a specialists’ meeting in August last year that its animal-testing on mice, Formosan ferret-badgers and beagles is necessary for disease prevention and scientific research about the rabies virus that has been recorded in Taiwan’s wild animals.
Many activists and specialists spoke out against the council’s planned experiments, calling them inhumane and unnecessary, but the council repeated that the tests were necessary.
Last week, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim’s (蕭美琴) said the legislature’s Economic Committee had temporarily frozen the budget for the testing, but that the program can still be conducted once it gains approval.
US entertainment news site E! Online had earlier reported DeGeneres had joined the PCRM’s fight to stop the experiments by writing a letter that is to be sent to Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) and the legislature’s Economic Committee, the PCRM said.
“As a long-time advocate for the welfare of animals, I would like to join the many physicians, scientists and veterinarians who have encouraged the Taiwanese government to avoid experimenting on live animals in its efforts to combat the rabies virus in Taiwan” she wrote in the letter.
“No one would want to think of forcing live animals to go through experiments in which they develop rabies and ultimately die from it,” she wrote.
“Experts from the international scientific and veterinary communities agree that the infectivity of rabies viruses and the resulting course of infection in animals have been well established,” DeGeneres added.
In addition to the more than 200 physicians, scientists and veterinarians who have signed the petition, that encourages the council to stop its animal-testing plan, the PCRM also announced last year that it recruited celebrities Alec Baldwin and Maggie Q to its anti-rabies testing campaign.