Tucked away in central Russia, an adorable statue pays homage to the animals that lose their lives in the name of science every year. Located in Siberia in the city of Novosibirsk, the sculpture shows a scholarly looking mouse knitting. And when one looks closer, it's apparent that this mouse isn't knitting an ordinary scarf or a hat. No, it's actually knitting a double-strand of DNA.
The sculpture sits in front of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics at the Russian Academy of Sciences and was completed in 2013. Called the Monument to the Laboratory Mouse, it was designed to honor the 55th anniversary of the founding of the institute. Forged from bronze, it took a year to complete. The mouse wears spectacles on the bridge of its nose, lost in concentration about the work that it's doing.
“It combines both the image of a laboratory mouse and a scientist, because they are connected to each other and serve one cause,” said sculptor Andrei Kharkevich of the design. “The mouse is imprinted at the time of scientific discovery.”
Mice have long been used to help researchers make breakthrough scientific discoveries. Not only does their small size and low cost make them appealing, but their short lifespan and quick breeding cycle mean that scientists can observe many generations in a short time. They also have a good general disposition and their genetic similarities to humans allow researchers to see many of the same human symptoms in their test subjects.
Of course, this type of animal research is problematic as well. Though testing on mice has brought about important results, organizations like PETA speak out against the use of lab animals. Mice can be put in painful and anxiety-inducing situations for researchers to conduct tests, and have an inferior quality of life.
So with the Monument to the Laboratory Mouse, let's not only marvel at our incredible achievements but also take the time to say thank you to the millions of animals whose lives have been sacrificed in the name of science.