The statistics

The latest statistics for animal use in 2017 have been released.

The total number of procedures performed went down from 2016 by 3.74% to 3.79 million procedures (3.94 million, 2016). This included 3,847 procedures on 2496 dogs, 2960 procedures on 2215 primates, 198 procedures on 71 cats and 10,600 procedures on 288 horses. 3.72 million animals were used overall.

The number of animals bred with genetic modifications but not further used in experiments has continued to rise over the past 10 years, from 1.39 million in 2008 to 1.90 million in 2017. There was a slight 0.55% decrease in the number of genetically modified animals in 2017 compared to 2016 (1.91 million). 719,326 genetically modified animals were additionally used in experiments. Construction of many different strains of animals with genetic mutations to single genes is the main reason for such high numbers; as they need to be bred in large numbers to maintain the specific mutation.

Genetically modified animals are defined as those with genetic characteristics that have been altered using genetic engineering

Of the 1,885,933 experimental procedures completed in 2017, the majority involved mice, 58.1% (1.09 million procedures); fish, 16.3% (308,340 procedures); rats, 12.4% (233,676 procedures) and sheep, 2.5% (47,482 procedures). Experimental procedures involving specially protected species (i.e. horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, and non-human primates) accounted for less than 1% of procedures in 2017.

Of note is the fact that the severity assessments for 1.89 million experimental procedures (not including breeding) completed in 2017 show a fall in the number of procedures assessed as moderate (down 14.6% from 2016) or severe (down 16.7% from 2016). In total, 31.3% of all procedures were assessed as moderate or severe compared with 34.3% in 2016.

For the full report on the statistics on animal use in scientific research visit the National Statistics page for Annual statistics relating to scientific procedures performed on living animals in accordance with Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 on the GOV.UK website.

Animal Free Research UK is showing how research that helps us fundamentally understand human biology and disease can and should take place without the need to use any animals.

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