The Secret of NIMH debuted in the summer of 1982 when I was two years old. Last night I watched the film again and while I remembered the music and characters, I had long forgotten the story. In this animated film, animal testing by scientists has transformed rats and mice into rodents with human intelligence. The ability to read helped them to escape from NIMH (which stands for the National Institute of Mental Health) where they had been subjects in a series of torturous experiments (notably alongside frightened puppies, chimpanzees, and rabbits). It’s a good movie, but I suspect that for some youngsters, likely served as a frightening introduction to scientists.
Yes the plot was fanciful, but the depiction of animal testing wasn’t completely exaggerated–some laboratories do conduct research on animals. Having been inside such facilities, I’ve observed firsthand that the conditions and the scientists involved vary tremendously. Some researchers care a lot about the well being of each animal, treating them with a great deal of respect. Others act as if they couldn’t care less.
Obviously, this is not a black and white issue, but it is something I spend a great deal of time thinking about. On one hand, animal testing has led to tremendous advances in medicine. At the same time, needless suffering should be avoided at all costs. My perspective is similar to Jane Goodall’s: Since research will continue, I would like to see it limited to the greatest extent possible as we develop and utilize alternatives where appropriate.
With that, I am interested to hear our readers opinions…