Day old chicks used in memory experiments


Humane Research Australia has condemned a recent experiment using day-old chicks as yet another tragic example of the unethical, cruel and pointless research carried out at Australian universities.

The experiment

The experiment conducted by researchers at LaTrobe University and published in 2012 used 1,160 one-day-old chicks to study the effects of Memantine – a medication for Alzheimer’s Disease – on their memories.

Chicks will innately peck at beads as food, researchers coat a certain different coloured bead in a bitter tasting substance, and after showing disgust when it pecks this bead, the chick will avoid pecking further beads of the same colour. This is called a one-trial passive-avoidance learning task.

In this experiment, the chicks were then injected with differing doses of Memantine to see what effect it would have on their ability at the one-trial passive-avoidance learning task mentioned above.

Humane Research Australia

Humane Research Australia condemns these tests as “Human clinical trials have already shown Memantine to improve cognition in Alzheimers Disease (AD) as well as vascular dementia, and it has already been approved for the treatment of AD in Europe and the United States.  In some studies, various doses of memantine have been shown to have either no effect or to impair memory of rats and chicks. Other studies have shown it to improve memory functioning. Considering these factors, Humane Research Australia is asking if the researchers believe that data obtained from the brains of day old chicks can be extrapolated to the more advanced human brain? Why could this testing not have been observed in human patients using non-invasive imaging techniques?

Supporting Humane Research Australia

Phoenix Rising For Children (PRFC) is an accredited out-of-home or foster care provider based in Sydney, N.S.W, Australia. PRFC was founded in 2001 to provide quality foster care to children and young people across Sydney, including contemporary, quality, family-based foster care and effective and specialist support services to children and young people and their families. PRFC operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment, and as such we support such organisations as Humane Research Australia as they encompass similar ideals.

Have you considered fostering a young one? PRFC undertakes regular planning and evaluation and has a focus on personal development and training. If you would like to become a foster carer and join our team providing effective and meaningful care to children and young people, please contact us!

We also provide family contact services, and these specialize in contact supervision for children in out of home care with their parents and other significant family members.

We can be reached at

Learn more about our foster care agency in NSW at

How you can help

You can help HRA make their case by writing in support of HRA’s views, and asking that they no longer fund unscientific animal-based experiments:

Australian Research Council
GPO Box 2702
Canberra 2601





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