Investigating New Zealand animal research statistics

Speaking of Research has prided itself on being the most comprehensive source of information on animal research statistics. We recently got in touch with the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC), who furnished us with their annual report for 2013.

The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) is a statutory body which provides advice to the Minister for Primary Industries and to Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) on the ethical and animal welfare issues arising from the use of live animals in research, testing and teaching (RTT).

In 2013, the number of animals used in research was 224,048.

Species of animals used in New Zealand research in 2013. Click to Enlarge

Species of animals used in New Zealand research in 2013. Click to Enlarge

While the total number of animals fell by 26% from 2012, it should be noted that the numbers of animals used each appears to fluctuate wildly between around 200,00 and 350,000, as we can see below. The main falls in 2013 were in cattle and mice, whereas there were large rises in birds and sheep.

Trends in New Zealand animal experiments 1999-2013. Note 2014 is in a different color to reflect the different reporting requirements. Click to Enlarge.

Trends in New Zealand animal experiments 1999-2013

Whereas in most countries mice, rats, fish and birds account for over 90% of animals in research, in New Zealand it is under 50%. Instead 44% of animals are cattle and sheep, reflecting the huge amount of agricultural research being done. Interesting only 2% (cattle) and 3% (sheep) of these species die or are euthanized (compared with 98% of the mice).

Animal Experiments in New Zealand in 2013. Click to Enlarge

Animal Experiments in New Zealand in 2013. Click to Enlarge

Other information provided by the annual statistics are:

  • Around half the research is done by universities (24%) and crown research institutes (23%) , the other half is done by commercial organisations (46%).
  • Only 36% of animals die or are euthanised. This tends to polarise between high rates for mice and rats, and a very low proportion for sheep and cattle.
  • 27.3% of animals were involved in research with no, or virtually no negative impact on the animal. 47.9% had little impact on the animal, 17.8% had moderate impact, and 2.0% were considered high impact.
  • The main purpose of research was basic biological research (23.4%), then veterinary research (19.5%), then animal testing (13.7%). The rest is illustrated below.

Use of animals in research in New Zealand 2013

The 2014 statistics should be coming out soon and we will report on them when they come out.

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