The merciless rise of cruelty in Australian research

The number of animals killed or physically ‘challenged’ in Australian research has continued its merciless rise.

Animal use in research and teaching, Australia, 2005 to 2009

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In 2009, 1.46 million animals were subjected to either death or physical challenge through research procedures in Australia – this equates to nearly a third of all animals used in Australian research.

When 2009 figures are compared to 2005, the number of animals made ‘unconscious without recovery’ has doubled; the number experiencing ‘major physiological challenge’ has more than quadrupled.

Australian research seems to be on an unrelenting, merciless march toward greater animal cruelty.

The table below shows the number of animals used in Australian research and teaching by severity of procedure, and the percent increase from 2005.

The data come from Humane Research Australia (HRA), gathered from a variety of sources. HRA points out that there are serious gaps in the data, not least because data are not available for Queensland, Western Australia or the Northern Territory, and data from the ACT do not provide a breakdown by type of procedure.

Another interesting trend is a rise in the production of genetically modified animals. From 2005 to 2007, the number of genetically modified animals produced under Australian research ranged between 4 and 5 thousand animals. In 2008 this number rose dramatically to over 40,000 animals. And in 2009 it rose even more dramatically – more than doubling to over 100,000 animals. It is difficult to determine the level degree of cruelty or suffering experienced by these animals, but the sharp rise will add to the fears for those concerned for the welfare of animals.

View the full data here>

Animal use in research and teaching, Australia, 2009
Severity of procedure Number Percent change from 2005
Observational studies involving minor interference 2,047,891 -5
Minor conscious intervention 1,303,266 9
Minor operative procedures with recovery 214,964 -18
Surgery with recovery 46,644 -3
Minor physiological challenge * 254,361 55
Major physiological challenge * 590,533 389
Animal unconscious without recovery * 583,253 108
Death as an end point * 31,789 -17
Production of genetically modified animals 104,339 1,957
Unspecified 134,281 -78
TOTAL 5,311,321 9
* Combined:Killed or physically ‘challenged’ 1,459,936 142

Data source: Humane Research Australia, humaneresearch.org.au/statistics/

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Australian research becoming crueller to animals

The number of animals in Australia killed or physically ‘challenged’ by research procedures nearly doubled in three years.

Data from Humane Research Australia

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In 2005, just over 600,000 animals were killed or physically ‘challenged’ by research and teaching procedures. By 2008 this had grown to nearly 1.16 million animals: a 92 percent increase, or nearly 555,000 more animals.

The data come from Humane Research Australia, gathered from a variety of sources. HRA points out that there are serious gaps in the data, not least because reporting is patchy – a sign perhaps of the shame some States feel about being honest and transparent about these practices? Taken at face value, they show trends that will shock some and cause concern to many.

The proportion of animals subjected to death or physical ‘challenge’ by procedures increased from about one in six to one in every four animals (from 14 percent in 2005, to 23 percent in 2008).

There was almost a tripling in the number of animals subjected to ‘major physiological challenge’ by research procedures.

It is also interesting also to note the rise in the production of genetically modified animals from around 5,000 in 2005 to 41,000 in 2008. This is a 700 percent rise in three years! A sign of things to come?

The summary table below shows the number of animals used in Australian research and teaching by severity of procedure, and the percent increase from 2005. View the full data here>

Animal use in research and teaching, Australia, 2008
Severity of procedure Number Percent change from 2005
Observational studies involving minor interference 2,288,358 7
Minor conscious intervention 1,389,057 16
Minor operative procedures with recovery 82,904 -68
Surgery with recovery 36,539 -24
Minor physiological challenge * 265,138 62
Major physiological challenge * 320,862 166
Animal unconscious without recovery * 545,463 95
Death as an end point * 26,198 -31
Production of genetically modified animals 41,314 715
Unspecified 120,954 -80
TOTAL 5,116,787 5
* Combined:Killed or physically ‘challenged’ 1,157,661 92

Data source: Humane Research Australia, aahr.org.au/statistics.html
Text and data analysis: Animal Rights Hub Australasia