AS needles pierce its stomach and drip anesthetic, a rat loses consciousness and is ready for research surgery that eventually may save human lives.
Of course, this is no ordinary rat, the kind you might spot on a street. It is especially bred in a sterile, controlled environment for laboratory use in Shanghai.
Strict treatment standards have been on the books for more than 10 years; regulations are issued and so are licenses, but lack of enforcement and penalties is a problem.
Regulating the use of lab animals - making sure they are clean, healthy and do not suffer - is important to ensure the reliability of experiments and prevent spread of potentially infectious diseases, experts say.
They must be standardized in weight and other characteristics for tests to be meaningful. They must also be raised in a sterile environment. Laboratory animals of all kinds are especially raised for research and used in medical, biological and other scientific research around China. The most common animals are rodents, rabbits, dogs, pigs and monkeys.