The USDA’s 2015 annual report on animal use at research facilities shows a continued decreasing trend in the number of animals used in U.S. laboratories. The report revealed that 904,147 animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) were held in labs last year, and that 767,622 were used in research, a drop of over eight percent from 2014.
Hamsters are among the most used animals in labs, but their numbers decreased by almost 20 percent in 2015. However, over half of the hamsters were used in experiments involving pain. The “all other covered species” animal category, which includes gerbils, bats, ferrets, and chinchillas, decreased 24 percent. Also down were the numbers of rabbits (eight percent) and cats (five percent).
Unfortunately, there were increases in the number of other animals used in experiments. Primate numbers increased seven percent, and there was a slight rise in the number of dogs, guinea pigs, sheep, pigs, and “other farm animals” (goats, cows, horses) used in research.
While much of this data is welcome news, it’s important to note that only animals covered by the AWA are included in this report. Since rats, mice, birds, and fish do not fall under the umbrella of the AWA, labs are not required to count them, yet AAVS estimates that they comprise 95 percent of all animals in labs. Unlike the U.S., the European Union and Canada provide regulatory and legal protection for these animals.
Animals Used in Research 2014/2015
|TYPE OF ANIMAL||NUMBER USED IN 2014||NUMBER USED IN 2015|
|Other Farm Animals||27,393||27,786|
|All Other Animals||171,375||130,066|
|TOTAL ANIMALS USED||834,453||767,622|
Please visit USDA’s website for more specific information about animal use.