An estimated 170,000 animals died in a medical laboratory fire, a California Department of Forestry official said Sunday.
The fire broke out Saturday at Simonsen Laboratories in Gilroy and destroyed a 30,000-square-foot building, said Fire Capt. Nancy Koerperich.
The laboratory breeds laboratory animals in sterile environments for sale to medical researchers.
"There were 170,000 animals killed--rats, mice, guinea pigs," Koerperich said.
She estimated the damage at $3.5 million.
The laboratory, about 30 miles south of San Jose, was picketed for a week in April by more than two dozen animal rights activists belonging to a group called In Defense of Animals, but Koerperich said there was no evidence of arson.