In 2017, there were 3.79 million procedures completed involving regulated living animals, which was the lowest annual number since 2010. This note summarises and analyses trends in data, including the growth of universities as the dominant seat of research on animals, the use of different species, and the decline of research for toxicological purposes.Jump to full report >>
In 2017, there were 3.79 million procedures completed involving regulated living animals.
This was the lowest annual number since 2010. Despite a recent fall in the annual number, this was 18% higher than in 2007 and 42% higher than in 1997.
The numbers now are generally lower than their peak in the 1960s and 1970s, although we do not have completely comparable figures before and after 1987.
In 2017, 1.89 million (49.8%) of procedures were experiments and 1.90 million (50.2%) were instances of the creation or breeding of genetically altered (GA) animals.
Three quarters of procedures involved mice. Since 2007, fish have been the second most common animal used; prior to this it was rats.
The majority of procedures (56%) were for basic scientific research. Twenty-seven
per cent were regulatory procedures (incuding safety testing) and 14% were for translational/ applied research, which includes the development of drugs and treatments for humans.
Procedures are classified by severity, in terms of the harm that they involve. Most procedures cause some degree of harm (mild, moderate, or severe) and in 7% of procedures the animal did not recover.
The statistics in this briefing are for Great Britain, unless specified otherwise. They are mainly taken from the Home Office’s Statistics of scientific procedures on living animals.
Statistics for Northern Ireland are published separately by the Northern Ireland Department of Health.
Commons Briefing papers SN02720
Author: Georgina Sturge