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Animals used in British experiments in 2016

Almost 4 million animals were used in scientific procedures in Great Britain in 2016.

The Home Office today published the “Statistics of scientific procedures on living animals, Great Britain 2016” which revealed 3.87 million live animals were used for scientific purposes.

Of this total, 1.91 million were genetically altered animals created or bred, but killed without being used in further procedures.  

The almost 4 million animals used in scientific procedures included 3,530 dogs (increased by 125 in 2015), 143 cats, 373 equines, 2,440 primates (an increase of 206). The vast majority continue to be mice, zebrafish and rats.

While there was a 5% decrease in the number of mice, this contrasts with an increase in other species including zebrafish, domestic fowl, guinea pigs, dogs, primates and rabbits.

Lack of transparency

But while the statistics reveal basic information such as the numbers of animals used, where they were bred, and rank their level of suffering, the reliability of the annual statistics is under intense scrutiny.

Little is known about what life is actually like for each of those animals in a laboratory.

Naturewatch Foundation Campaign Manager, Joanna Randall, explains:

“The Government statistics provide basic numbers about animal experiments in Great Britain, but tell us nothing about accommodation, transport, breeding, how animals are treated, and the specific purposes for each experimental procedure. Such information is essential in order for the caring and concerned British public to be able to fully understand animal experiments, but is illegal to disclose thanks to the Secrecy Clause.”

Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 – the so-called ‘Secrecy Clause’ - makes it an offence punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment to disclose certain details about the use of animals for scientific procedures, even if the researchers carrying out the procedures want it to be known.

Scientific bodies, animal welfare groups, and representatives of both major political parties have acknowledged the need to update or remove the clause, but the Government is yet to take action.

Take Action

Join Naturewatch Foundation in calling on the new Minister of State with responsibility for animal experiments to urgently begin the process of repealing section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act so the British public can finally be truly informed about animal experiments.

Please contact Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State, and let her know you want section 24 repealed without further delay.


Read our report on section 24