14,000 animals killed at NI universities

Published Monday, 10 February 2014
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Almost 14,000 animals died in experiments at universities in Northern Ireland in one year, it has been revealed.

14,000 animals killed at NI universities
Over 12,000 mice were used in experiments in one year in NI. (© Getty)

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Statistics from the Department of Health, acquired by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), showed that in 2012 there was a slight decrease of just over 1% in the number of animals used for research.

These included 12,132 mice, 1,255 rats, 69 rabbits, six cats, 12 dogs and seven horses.

Animals which are used in such laboratory tests are destroyed.

BUAV also expressed concern that the six cats were subjected to 167 experiments, an average of almost 28 experiments per animal while the 12 dogs were subjected to an average of 11 experiments each.

A spokesperson said they would be asking the government to explain why these types of experiments are happening.

BUAV said the use of animals by universities has risen so it now comprises 70% of animal experiments in Northern Ireland.

Out of the total 17,455 animals used in experiments in 2012 - 13,784 animals were used at universities - 11,886 animals at Queen's University and 1,898 animals at the University of Ulster.

Feeding rats lavender oil to see if it reduced anxiety after blasting them with loud noises and bright lights and pumping rats with a hormone to see if it made them lose weight are examples of animal research carried out.

Responding to the figures, a statement from Queen's University said within the last five years, they have only used only rats, mice and a small number of guinea pigs, rabbits and frogs within the Biological Resource Unit for "essential animal experimentation".

As a leading research university, Queen’s conducts research on animals only when it is absolutely essential for clinical, biomedical and environmental studies and where there are no alternatives.

Queen’s University

A spokesperson said: "All such work is heavily regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and its subsequent amendments. The research is conducted under licences issued by the Home Office in accordance with UK legislation, and is equally scrutinised by the University Animal Welfare and Ethics Review Board.

"The use of animals within the University is strictly regulated through the submission of detailed annual returns to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety on the numbers and types of animals and procedures used. The University also has a clear policy on Animal Experimentation."

In a statement, a DHSSPS spokesperson said: "All experiments in Northern Ireland are monitored under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, which is UK-wide legislation.

"The UK has one of the most stringent regulatory regimes in the world for protecting the welfare of animals that are used for scientific procedures."

The spokesperson said that there is a widely accepted humane ethical framework of replacement aka non-animal methods, reducing the number of animals used and refining methods to improve animal welfare.

They added: "There are no plans to introduce any new regulations in Northern Ireland or to adopt a policy for Northern Ireland that is different from the rest of the UK."

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33 Comments
dave in London wrote (103 days ago):
Experimenting on animals has been going on for 200 years, it's brought us one understanding to date, it's proved through different species differences between human and animal that we differ and the evidence of the invalidity is here, the problem is many rely on the income using animals in research brings, established PR companies exist to protect the £50Billion turnover per annum that's involved in the life science sector. Those who use animals know different species do not predict responses and benefit human health at any level is safe, and choose not to expose their work in public, Why? universities rely on grants to be financially operational, curiosity driven research on monkeys by the likes of Colin Blakemore is another example of someone who has spent his whole career wanting to be noticed and receive a knight hood, yet soon as he is called out to debate his work he refuses. The Law that requires the use of animals is 70 years old when science was in its infancy, those who promote that using animal is necessary to benefit humans are not saying it for health, they are saying it to protect their careers, and responsible for delaying cures and the progress of human health. If animal were good predictive models then the benefits would be here already, there would be no need for PR machines backed by the vivisection industry. Looking back in history money has always ruled, what a shame when there are people suffering and dying too. Anyway not to worry ah, scandals always come out of the wood work at some point, the experts are now backed by leading barristers, so this will be soon.
april in england wrote (181 days ago):
Okay a lot of people are claiming that these animals are worth less, who says??!!why should their lives be sacrificed to save our species?the individual animal is being exploited. These living creatures have the ability to feel pain and suffer the same as us, therefore it's wrong to experiment on them. I recommend all these people who agree with this sick industry to look up what happens these poor animals on the internet. You might just change your minds.
Chris in Belfast wrote (255 days ago):
Anyone who thinks that medical researchers conduct animal research without first having considered all alternatives are incredibly misinformed. In order to be granted a licence to conduct animal research you first have to show that no alternative is viable. These people do invaluable work to advance medical and scientific knowledge and today are working on cures for devastating diseases such as MS, parkinsons and a multitude of cancers. Every single drug on the market today including simple paracetamol has been tested on animals. Diseases such as smallpox have been eradicated because of animal research and around the word millions of people in poverty striken countries have had their vision saved, lives prolonged and quality of life improved because of animal research. People who conduct this research are not evil, or monsters or heartless. They are people who want to change the world who have likely seen family members suffer because of lack of medical treatment. These people treat the animals with the utmost care and often advocate for animal rights. The use of animals is a necessary tool in the search for a better future. Those that think otherwise are uninformed, easily fooled and thoroughly uneducated.
words cant describe in Belfast wrote (256 days ago):
"Well said in Bangor" - By refusing vaccines, you are putting everyone at risk! Sure you'll be covered to a certain degree by community immunity but you're risking getting anything you could have been vaccinated against. Well done you! Animal testing is a fact of life, all you moral idiots may as well go protest at a cattle farm because if you take offense to this, you'll take offense to animals being slaughtered to be eaten. Oh wait, you probably had a ham sandwich for lunch, a burger last night and a roast chicken for sunday dinner. Wise up! These studies are for the good of human kind!
Gareth in Belfast wrote (256 days ago):
Educated scientist ??? More like a idiot
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