Page last updated at 07:59 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 08:59 UK

'Bends' goats to get foster homes

A goat
The MoD announced a halt to testing using goats in February

A search for foster homes for a herd of goats used in Navy decompression experiments has been launched.

The 28 goats were used in trials for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the effect of pressure on submarine crews during emergency escapes.

The tests were designed to help crews judge whether to abandon a stricken vessel or wait for rescue.

The animals are being sent to the Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Maidstone, Kent, before being re-homed.

With limited space and resources at the sanctuary we really need to identify new homes as quickly as possible
Bob Hitch, Buttercups

The MoD announced in February that it would end the testing following controversy about the use of goats in such experiments.

Buttercups Sanctuary founder Bob Hitch said the goats were aged from 18 months to eight years and included a mix of male and female Saanan, Toggenburg and Anglo-Nubian breeds.

Mr Hitch said: "With limited space and resources at the sanctuary we really need to identify new homes and conduct the necessary home visits as quickly as possible."

Mr Hitch said Buttercups was unable to financially support the goats but would continue to oversee their welfare, so was looking for suitable homes in the Kent and East Sussex areas.

Deadly effects

Defence research group QinetiQ carried out the tests to assess the risk of Navy personnel getting "the bends".

The "bends" - the effect of nitrogen bubbles in the bloodstream - is the sickness caused when divers rise to the surface too quickly.

Tim Sharman, team leader for maritime life support at QinetiQ, said they are giving Buttercups financial support to help re-home the healthy animals.

He said: "We simply no longer have a requirement to conduct animal trials and are now making every effort to find suitable and appropriate new homes for all of them."

UK navy to end goat experiments
06 Feb 08 |  UK Politics

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