More than 2.8 million animals used in British laboratories last year

Posted on the 16th July 2021

A government report released on the 15th July reveals how more than 2.8 million animals were used in experiments in Great Britain last year. These animals included beagles, monkeys, rats and mice, cats and horses.

The report outlines how:

  • 2,738 beagles were used (Of these 1,942 were born in the UK).
  • 3,176 pigs were used.
  • 1,718 monkeys were used, 1,432 of whom were born overseas, 569 of those in Asia and 863 in Africa. These intelligent and inquisitive animals typically face long, arduous and extremely stressful journeys even before they arrive at the British laboratory where they will be harmed and killed. Journeys from overseas are known to take up to 60 hours.
  • 54% of the experiments were conducted at universities.
  • 1% of the experiments were classed as ‘severe’ – meaning that the animals underwent the most terrible suffering permitted.
  • The number of rabbits used rose from 10,131 in 2019 to 11,332 last year, an increase of more than 11%
  • Over the same period, the number of cats used increased from 28 to 105, a shocking increase of 375%.

While the number of animals used in 2020 is less than the previous year, the decrease is due to the national lockdowns. In addition to some experiments being halted, on-site inspections – to check the animals welfare and the laboratory’s compliance with the law –  were suspended. Instead of inspectors visiting laboratories to see the animals for themselves, they were relying on telephone and email.

The huge numbers of animals used, especially those bred overseas, shows that animal experiments are conducted on a global scale. Experiments, conducted at many universities, as well as other establishments, are conducted in most large cities in Great Britain. This is a global-to-local trade in misery and suffering.

‘It is a national disgrace that, year after year, millions of animals are poisoned, injected with cancer, mutilated, exposed to nerve agents, shot and otherwise harmed, before being killed in British laboratories. The industrial scale of suffering is shocking.

Behind these enormous numbers are individual animals who could have lived such different lives outside the confines of the laboratory – rats, for example, are intelligent, inquisitive and can enjoy being tickled and playing with human care-givers. Yet 207,997 rats were used in laboratories last year, suffering unimaginable harms.

There are more accurate, humane and relevant methods available, which should be used in place of cruel, outdated animal experiments.’

Jessamy Korotoga, Head of Campaigns, at Animal Aid

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