Ricky Gervais has lashed out at Cardiff University in the U.K. after it was revealed that researchers there conducted sensory deprivation tests on 30 kittens.
“I am appalled that kittens are being deprived of sight by having their eyelids sewn shut. I thought sickening experiments like these were a thing of the past,” he said. "Honestly, how does this happen in so called civilised society?"
The experiments, which also involved newborn kittens being raised in total darkness, were uncovered by The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV). The chief executive of the group called the tests “unacceptable cruel research," as reported by WalesOnline
In response, officials from Cardiff University defended the research, saying it was conducted
to find a cure for lazy eyes.
"The condition can be treated in young children of up to about eight years by such measures as the wearing of eye patches. However, in older children and adults, as the brain increasingly prefers images from one eye, the condition is not curable.
“The aim of the Cardiff University study is to better understand this critical period in early life when the visual cortex in the brain adapts to the signals coming from the eye. In the long term, the aim is to use this improved understanding of the brain to treat older children or adults."
Ingrid Newkirk, president of animal rights organization PETA, had a different take.
"Not only is sewing shut the eyes of kittens ethically and morally abhorrent, it is so crude and cruel that it sets science back decades," she told the Mirror. The kittens will suffer from having their eyes sewn shut and will also experience psychological distress from being reared in the dark.
"We learn far more about what happens in humans by investing in state-of-the-art research methods that provide reliable data on human experience," she said.
Cardiff says it concluded its testing on kittens in 2010.