UBC releases 2020 animal research statistics

UBC’s summary of animals involved in research at the university in 2020 is now available. 

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UBC’s summary of animals involved in research at the university in 2020 is now available.

This is the eleventh consecutive year the university has published the data. UBC is one of the few Canadian universities to publish animal research statistics annually. The university publishes the data as part of its overall commitment to openness and transparency.

The data was collected for UBC’s annual report to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), a national organization that oversees the ethical use of animals in science.

“The use of animals in research plays a crucial role in understanding and developing treatments and responses to alleviate the often-devastating impacts of diseases and medical conditions for people around the world,” said university veterinarian Ian Welch.

“At UBC, our researchers are also committed to improving animal health and welfare and to learn more about animal behaviour in order to inform conservation and preservation efforts around the world, particularly in response to climate change and environmental impacts.”

Developing research methods that reduce, refine and replace animals involved in research is always a guiding principle in these studies, Welch added, as is our dedication to ensuring that all research animals receive the very highest levels of care.

Procedures are reviewed and approved by the university’s Animal Care Committee, which is made up of research experts, licensed veterinarians and community representatives.

In addition to sharing statistics, UBC provides a virtual tour of its animal care facilities here. For information on UBC’s 2020 animal research statistics, as well as information about the medical and scientific discoveries achieved through that research, visit www.animalresearch.ubc.ca.


Animals involved in UBC research in 2020

In 2020, a total of 108,223 animals were involved in 496 research and teaching protocols at UBC. That’s a decrease of 28% from 2019 when 151,239 animals were involved in 642 research and teaching protocols. The reduction in the number of animals involved was due in part to the disruption in 2020 research activity caused by the pandemic.

More than 97 per cent of animals involved in UBC research were rodents, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

The number of large mammals involved in research increased to 1,659 in 2020 from 1,194 in 2019 due primarily to a large study focused on generating science-based recommendations for improved dairy cattle welfare by identifying the best housing and management practices.

The majority (52 per cent) of animals in research at UBC remains rodents, but that number also fell to 56,217 in 2020 from 85,263 in 2019.

The number of animals in research involving breeding was 6,768 in 2020, compared to 5,041 in 2019. Under the category of breeding, we record only those animals where breeding is the research project.

More than 39 per cent of the animals (42,446) were involved in procedures that cause less than minor or short-term stress (CCAC Categories of Invasiveness B and C). These include observations of animal behaviours, blood sampling, tagging and tracking of wild animals. The number of animals involved in Category D procedures (moderate to severe distress) decreased by 20% in 2020 compared to 2019.