Animal Experiments


On April 28, an advertisement rejecting animal experimentation (vivisection) was placed in The Times by 24 health professionals, 11 groups and scores of individuals who are very concerned about human as well as animal health. The health professionals who signed the statement are part of a large (and growing) number of physicians, scientists, dentists, nurses, veterinarians, psychologists and other health professionals who oppose vivisection and feel that it is one of the primary reasons for the current crises in our health care system.

There was a quote in the ad statement denouncing vivisection by Dr. Charles Mayo who was listed as “founder, Mayo Clinic.” On Aug. 12 a letter appeared in The Times from Robert Smoldt of the Mayo Foundation, denying the quote’s authenticity. Although the source used for the quote was reliable, we felt more extensive research was warranted in order to respond to this serious accusation.

After review of the original New York Daily News article from which the quote was taken and a biography of the Mayos, we found that the quote was heard, personally, in 1921 or 1922 by William Hendrix, staff writer for the N.Y. Daily News. In the March 13, 1961, article, Hendrix also mentions that Charles’ brother, William, was an advocate of vivisection. The Mayo brothers--Charles H. and William J.--were co-founders of the famous Mayo Clinic in the early 1900s.


In the Mayos’ biography we found that Charles Mayo had (as Smoldt stated) contributed land for the clinic’s first experimentation facility in approximately 1910. The biography specifically and clearly states William’s support of vivisection but states no position for Charles and gives no evidence that would contradict Charles’ strong denunciation of vivisection as quoted by Hendrix. The fact that Charles gave land for the first experimental animal facility in 1910 in no way indicates his support of the practice in 1922, after many years of witnessing it firsthand.

There are, and have always been, many within the ranks of medicine and science who oppose vivisection and feel that it diverts attention and precious resources away from true causes and real solutions to our health problems.