My electives in the summer consisted of extensive drug testing on animals of all sorts – rabbits, guinea pigs, rats. The first rabbit killing impressed me most though, and I wrote about it the same day, when it was still fresh. This is that account, only slightly modified.
They picked up the rabbit by its hind legs. Its back was facing me. He told Ahmer to hold its ears, so the back of its head was almost horizontal. The back of the neck was open to view and rigid. He slammed the side of his hand down on it. There was a cricking noise and the force of the blow jerked the ears out of Ahmer’s hand.
Blood started leaking out onto the floor. The other lab people exclaimed that the blood was leaking out of its nose – that that happened sometimes.
The rabbit was brown with grey areas where tufts of hair were coming out. It had black patches too, and big browny-black eyes that looked downwards – they wouldn’t look up at us.
The blood was leaking out and splattering in droplets on the floor. The head hung loose, the neck obviously broken. They called it ‘cervical dislocation’ in the journals, but the term was cold in comparison. I felt sick, looking at the bright red blood and the limply hanging head on its broken neck. I felt sick, but it didn’t stop me from helping out with the dissection.
They laid the rabbit on the table, legs spread, underbelly up. It lay perpendicular to the table, its legs open towards the lab man, and the head facing me on the opposite side. The man told me to hold its front legs open with the forceps. They touched the eye, to see if it would blink. The rabbit’s head was turned so that one side of the face touched the table. That side was bloody, the fur matted with clotting blood that had leaked out of its nose and pooled on the surface. The other eye looked up, supposedly at and through me. I couldn’t help my own eyes glancing to it every few seconds – that wide stare that hadn’t glazed over yet, that looked so alive. Later on I tried to close the eye using the forceps, and when I did the rabbit looked quiet and peaceful. But the eye wouldn’t stay closed.
He cut open the abdomen, removed the jejunum. Carefully then, he cut open the rib cage and removed the aorta. Then he cut open the neck and took out the trachea, but that was a different lab person. All the while my eyes were half on the proceedings and half trying to fathom the rabbit’s look.
Sara was pale and sweating – she couldn’t stand it, looking at the rabbit. She didn’t see it dissected either, she sat on the side. The dissection didn’t bother me – it was interesting. But I was disturbed because they almost started while the rabbit’s legs were still twitching. I didn’t want it to get hurt.
Inside, the guts were still contracting – peristalsis. Little bits of food and feces were passing along the intestines. When I was stringing up bits of jejunum for contraction tests later my gloves were continually stained by bits of it. Semi-digested rabbit poo. I am disgusted, but I don’t think I will be, not for long.
I suppose it’s humans next.
22/23 – 06 – 2010