Switzerland’s animal research in numbers for 2015

The statistics for animal research conducted in Switzerland in 2015 were released last week. We have translated these tables to English and these data are summarized below.

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Animal Research in 2015 in Switzerland. Click to Enlarge

Number of animals used in research in Switzerland in 2015. We have added a column titled "Total 2014" to aid comparison. Click to Enlarge

Number of animals used in research in Switzerland in 2015 in greater detailClick to Enlarge

Overall, there were 682,333 animals (not including invertebrates except Cephalopoda and lobsters) used in research and animal testing in Switzerland in 2015. Most of these animals were involved in basic research (66.1%), with “discovery, development and quality control” being the next most common (19.2%). The remainder were used for other reasons including disease diagnosis, education and training and protecting the environment. Mice were again the most prevalently used species (60.4%).

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92.2% of the animals used in research and testing were conducted on mice, rats, fish and birds, similar to other European countries. Monkeys (198), cats (621) and dogs (2,518) together accounted for 0.6% of all research animals, with an overall decrease of 547 animals from 2014 for these species.

Animal Research in Switzerland

Animals used in research in Switzerland in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Pain, suffering and harm, were also measured and classified under four grades of severity; 0, 1, 2 and 3. In 2015, 42.9% of experiments were Grade 0, 34% were Grade 1, 21% were Grade 2 and 2.1% were Grade 3. These are defined as follows:

The following four categories are used for constraints on animals resulting from procedures or measures in the context for animal experiments:

  • Severity grade 0 – no constraint: Procedures and actions performed on animals for experimental purposes that do not inflict pain, suffering or harm on the animals, engender fear or impair their general well-being;
  • Severity grade 1 – mild constraint: Procedures and actions performed on animals for experimental purposes that cause short-term mild pain or harm or a mild impairment of general well-being;
  • Severity grade 2 – moderate constraint: Procedures and actions performed on animals for experimental purposes that cause short-term moderate or medium to long-term mild pain, suffering or harm, short term moderate fear or short to medium-term severe impairment of general well-being;
  • Severity grade 3 – severe constraint: Procedures and actions performed on animals for experimental purposes that cause medium to long-term moderate pain or severe pain, medium to long-term moderate harm or severe harm, long-term severe fear or a severe impairment of general well-being.
Severity Data in Switzerland since 1997. Click to Enlarge

Severity Data in Switzerland since 1997. Click to Enlarge

These numbers are relatively consistent across time, with on average 78% of all animals being exposed to no or minor short-lasting pain and distress.

Trend over time in animal experiments in the Switzerland. Click to Enlarge.

Trend over time in animal experiments in the Switzerland. Click to Enlarge.

Overall there has been a steady downward trend in the number of animals used in research in Switzerland over the last 30 years, despite the observed increase in the number of animals used between 2014 and 2015. According to SwissInfo, Switzerland’s federal veterinary office said in a statement that “the increase in animal experiments was linked to studies involving large herds of animals and to species conservation projects”.

See details of Switzerland’s 2014 statistics

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