An American company is under fire from an animal rights group for a device they are set to release that allows users to control live-cockroaches by stimulating the antenna nevers after surgically installing an electronic backpack onto them.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) denounced the Backyard Brains product, dubbed the “RoboRoach,” in a press release, saying they have submitted a complaint to the Michigan attorney general and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for “unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine (performing surgery on cockroaches), which is a felony, and instructing children to commit this crime.”
The RoboRoach, available for pre-order online for $99, requires the individual to anesthetize a cockroach, use sandpaper to “lightly sand the pronotum,” superglue electrode connecters to the insect, and poke a hole just behind the cockroach’s head, as part of the necessary “surgery” to install the backpack.
“It takes about 45 minutes to do the surgery; within 2-4 attempts you will become an expert,” the company says on its website.
Backyard Brains additionally uploaded a video to YouTube showing a cockroach undergo the extensive procedure.
After the surgery, individuals are instructed to, “place the RoboRoach on the ground” and “when he starts running, stimulate the antenna with your remote control.”
“For a couple minutes, you can make the cockroach turn left or right (opposite side of stimulation),” the company says.
PETA skewered the product, saying the insects “are very social” and cited studies that indicate cockroaches experience pain.
“Cockroaches are also very social—they live together in closely bonded groups, can recognize individual members of their family, and make collective decisions that will benefit the entire cockroach clan,” the animal rights group said.
“Not only is RoboRoach harmul to roaches, it’s potentially harmful to the cyborgs’ handlers. It could desensitize them to the feelings of those who are weaker than they are. One might just as well call it a ‘bully starter kit,'” PETA added.
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