New Zealand publishes 2014 statistics on animal research

Speaking of Research tries to keep up to date with the latest animal research statistics being published around the world. For the second time we are taking a look at New Zealand’s annual statistics, as the Ministry for Primary Industries has just published it’s 2014 annual report. The report begins with a brief explanation of when and why animal studies are allowed:

The use of animals in research, testing and teaching is covered by a self-contained set of provisions – Part 6 – within New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation. This is because the nature of such use of animals may mean that general obligations under the legislation cannot be met. This recognises that compromised care and some pain and distress to a small number of animals may result in significant benefits to people, other animals or the environment. However, such use carries with it significant responsibilities and strict legislative obligations. Part 6 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 allows the use of animals for research, testing and teaching purposes only in accordance with a code of ethical conduct which has been approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

In 2014, the total number of animals used in research was 310,287, up 38% from 2013.

Species of animals used in New Zealand research in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Species of animals used in New Zealand research in 2014. Click to Enlarge

While this seems a large rise from 2013, 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 rises were in cattle, fish, and deer.

Trends in New Zealand animal experiments 1999-2014. Click to Enlarge.

Trends in New Zealand animal experiments 1999-2014. Click to Enlarge.

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 over 45% of animals are cattle, sheep and deer, reflecting the huge amount of agricultural research being done. Interesting only less than 1% of cattle and deer die or are euthanised (compared with 97% of the mice). See Appendix 1 for more information on the proportion euthanised.

Animal Experiments in New Zealand in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Animal Experiments in New Zealand in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Here is some other interesting information provided by the annual statistical release. Page numbers refer to the source in the annual report.

  • Over half of the research is done by universities (39%) and crown research institutes (16%) , most of the rest is done by commercial organisations (34%). [p. 14]
  • Only 1.9% of animals used in 2014 were transgenic, up slightly from 1.3% in 2013. [p. 12]
  • Only 34% 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. [p. 23]
  • 21.9% of animals were involved in research with no, or virtually no negative impact on the animal. 61.4% had little impact on the animal, 13.3% had moderate impact, and 3.4% were considered high  or very high impact. [p. 26]
  • The main purpose of research was basic biological research (24.3%), then veterinary research (19.2%), then teaching (16.9%). The rest is illustrated below. There was a big drop in the proportion used for animal testing in 2014. [p. 16]

Use of animals in research in New Zealand 2014

Speaking of Research seek to be the best source of information on the internet on animal research and testing statistics. Unfortunately language barriers mean that we often find it hard to get statistics from non-English speaking countries. If you speak multiple languages and are able to help us out finding the statistics from other countries we would be very grateful. See more here.

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