The ethics of research involving animals


Published 24/05/2005

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Mouse cages from Understanding Animal Research library

How many animals are used in research?

Estimates of the total number of animals used annually in research around the world range from between 50 to 100 million

In the UK, 2.72 million animals were involved in scientific procedures initiated in 2003, with about a third of these carried out by the pharmaceutical industry, and one third used in basic biological research.

The Home Office publishes annual statistics about the numbers of animals used in research in the UK

To put this in context, animals are used for many purposes other than research. For example, approximately one billion animals are used for the production of food in the UK per year.

What species of animal are used?

Many different species of animals are used in research. In 2003, the majority of procedures used mice and rats. Other mammals accounted for around 3% of the total, including 11,000 pigs, 5000 dogs and 3000 primates (for example, monkeys and marmosets).

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