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Generally, an animal experiment can be defined as an intervention on an animal, which causes suffering, harm, and distress, for scientific purposes. In this definition, animal experiments differ from more general scientific investigations concerning animals, such as observational studies in the wild in the fields of ethology or conservation, in which animals are involved but may not be harmed. Nowadays, the use of the term vivisection, in the case of animal experiments, is very controversial. This term originally referred to the cutting of living bodies for scientific purposes and has a long conceptual history (Maehle, 1992). In ancient times, it was used for referring to experiments on animals as well as on humans. Only in modern times, it became a colloquial term for all animal experiments and was much used by opponents in the nineteenth century, as the criticism of animal experiments became organized in a political movement (Maehle, 1990). Many opponents to animal experiments, nowadays, use the term deliberately in a political sense, connecting to past animal protection movements (e.g., the international Citizens’ Initiative Stop Vivisection, cf. Rippe, 2009). Animal experimenters, on the other hand, oppose the term on the grounds that there is no chirurgical exploration of living animals in experiments (e.g., German Research Foundation, dfg, 2016).


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