German court halts space experiment on hamsters | News | DW | 21.06.2019

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German court halts space experiment on hamsters

A German university's space travel experiment has been put on ice for now, as it would have cost the lives of dozens of hamsters. The court said there were still unanswered questions about the ethics of the animal tests.

The University of Marburg was told to hold off on plans to carry out animal testing on 36 dwarf hamsters, after a German court rejected their experiment on Friday.

The tests, which are part of a larger research project with the European Space Agency (ESA), would have seen the hamsters put into a "sleep-like state" that is supposed to help them survive for long periods of time without food or water.

The results of the tests are intended to be used to further space travel research. In the end, all 36 hamsters would have been killed.

Watch video 04:36

Technology instead of animal testing

The experiment was first rejected by the regional council in Giessen on the grounds that the University of Marburg did not provide sufficient evidence that the animal tests were indispensable and ethically acceptable.

An emergency appeal filed by the university was rejected by the Giessen administrative court on Friday, as the institution could not sufficiently answer questions about the ethics of the experiments in a short period of time, local public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk reported.

The court's decision is not yet in force, as both the university and regional council have two weeks to file an appeal with the Higher Administrative Court in Kassel.

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