The University of Michigan has some good news and some bad news. First, the bad: a genetically mutated laboratory animal is on the loose in Michigan, and its creators have no idea where it could be. The good news? It’s just a rabbit. What could go wrong?
That depends on the nature and severity of the mutation. Are we talking like a semi-intelligent slightly anthropomorphic Peter Rabbit-type mutant bunny, or a terrifying 7-foot-tall apocalyptic doom rabbit like that creepy Frank from Donnie Darko? Ultimately that remains unknown, because along with the rabbit itself, the University of Michigan also lost the records pertaining to the rabbit. How convenient!
The case of the missing mutant rabbit was uncovered by animal advocacy group Stop Animal Exploitation Now who obtained records from UM laboratories by requesting them from the federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. According to the documents, on April 2, 2018 an animal caretaker “noted that a transgenic rabbit was missing from the vivarium, and that there was an absence of record identifying its location.” Where did the rabbit go and how did it escape? What were the nature of its mutations?
The documents not only revealed that a mutant animal had somehow escaped without a trace, but also that a whole number of unreported incidents and accidents have cost thousands of laboratory animals their lives over the last several years: more than 11,000 zebrafish were killed when bleach was accidentally pumped into their tank; a whole study’s worth of mice were accidentally given gastrointestinal tumors; and another whole “rack of mouse cages” was inadvertently disconnected from its water supply, causing 53 mice to die of dehydration. In response to the revelations, the University of Michigan has released a statement of regret which claims “corrective action plans were put into place to prevent any future issues” regarding laboratory animals.
While there are plenty of ethical and moral arguments against the use of animals in laboratory testing, there are also those who believe this use of animals ultimately saves human lives. Are human lives more important than animal lives, though? While it can be easy to automatically or intuitively answer ‘yes,’ that argument can be a slippery slope as humans have different cognitive and physical ability levels. Where do we draw the line between humans and other animals, and by what basis?
Perhaps more importantly, there is a freaking mutant rabbit on the loose somewhere in Michigan. Forget anomalous big cats: keep your eyes open for anomalous rascally rabbits running amok or walking around on two legs thinking they’re people. Report any sightings to one Elmer Fudd.