Vienna: An experiment in Austria in which 29 live pigs were to be buried under masses of snow to study human survival chances in avalanches has been called off for fear of public protests, police has said.
Animal rights groups condemned the experiment as "bizarre" and "macabre" and activists had started gathering in the Tyrol`s Oetz valley, where the research was being conducted by the medical faculty of Innsbruck University and the emergency medicine centre at Bolzano, Italy.
"The outcry is understandable but also naive; animal experiments take place every day in different places," one of the researchers, Peter Paal, told the APA news agency.
In response to the animal rights activists, the scientists had said that the pigs were sedated and that the authorities had given their approval.
Scientists want to study the effect of air pockets that form under snow during avalanches on victims` survival chances.
One in five people hit by an avalanche found themselves with an air pocket, and the pig experiment could allow the development of new life-saving rescue techniques, scientists said.