Facts and Figures

National Animal Statistics

The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) (see the Policy & Oversight page for background) collects annual statistics on the use of animals in research, teaching and testing for institutions under the CCAC Program. Annual data reports can be downloaded here. It is important to note that the animal statistics published by CCAC represent those animals used in experimental procedures, and do not account for animals used for breeding purposes. The statistics also represent only those institutions under the CCAC program, and the use of animals in high schools is not overseen by the CCAC.

The most recently published annual statistics on the use of animals in research, teaching and testing in Canada report that 4,308,921 animals were used in 2016. This is a 21% increase from 2015.

Species used

Notably, the numbers of all species categories have increased between 2015 and 2016, with the exception of amphibians and Guinea pigs. Some important increases were seen in the numbers of pigs, cats, dogs and nonhuman primates.

SpeciesNumber of animals
reported in 2015
Number of animals

reported in 2016
% increase
Mice1399724160254715
Fish1191935150015626
Cattle34660152624952
Rats21367223695211
Birds1994682043743
Pigs206273506370
Other animals190572714242
Other rodents13506138663
Dogs95731509358
Reptiles6407725713
Rabbits550658977
Cats5035852669
Non-human primates4942755653

Purpose of animal use

The CCAC animal use data is broken down by Purpose of Animal Use. These categories are:

  1. Studies of a fundamental nature in science relating to essential structure or function
  2. Studies for medical purposes, including veterinary medicine, that relate to human or animal diseases or disorders
  3. Studies for regulatory testing of products for the protection of humans, animals, or the environment
  4. Studies for the development of products or appliances for human or veterinary medicine
  5. Education and training of individuals in post-secondary institutions or facilities

The below graph shows trends in Purpose of Animal Use from 1996-2016.

Categories of Invasiveness

The CCAC animal use data is also divided into Categories of Invasiveness, that is, the category of potential harm that animals may experience as a result of being used for experimental or teaching purposes. The Categories of Invasiveness are as follows:

  • Category A: Experiments on most invertebrates or live isolates
  • Category B: Experiments which cause little to no discomfort or stress
  • Category C: Experiments which cause minor stressor pain of short duration
  • Category D: Experiments which cause moderate to severe distress or discomfort
  • Category E: Procedures which cause severe pain near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanesthetized conscious animals

The graph below shows trends in Categories of Invasiveness from 1996-2016.

Limitations to the numbers provided by CCAC

One of the pressing issues with the animal statistics data provided by the CCAC is the variability in the data collected from year to year. In recent years the data presented has switched formats a number of times; for example, in 2011 reptiles and amphibians were combined into one category, but for all other years they were separated into different categories. This makes it difficult to track trends in the use of some species over time.

On a related note, there is no current data on trends in animal use over time. This is because the method of data collection by CCAC changed after 2011. We have put together trends graphs including the latest published data so that overall trends in the numbers of animals in science can be easily seen (see trends graphs above and below). The CCAC caution against comparing animal data from 2012 onwards with any previous data, so the data appear in different colours in the total numbers trends graph provided below.The missing data point for 2010 is due to erroneous data that is being reevaluated. It must be noted that the lower animal numbers for 2012 might be a result of the change in data collection strategy by the CCAC.

Institutional Animal Statistics

The University of British Columbia is the only Canadian institution to publish their annual animal statistics for animals used in research and teaching at the university.

Data have been collected for several years, so it is now possible to look at trends in animal use at UBC. At AiSPI we are delighted to see a 10% decrease in the overall number of animals used in science at UBC. However, despite this overall decrease, there have been increases in the number of rodents and large mammals used. We encourage UBC to continue the trend towards reducing all animal use in science.

Purpose of Animal Use

UBC report the numbers of animals used for breeding purposes. It should also be noted that UBC also combines regulatory testing and product development into one category that they call “regulatory testing.”

The 2016 data shows decreases in the sue of animals for basic research and for medical/veterinary research, but increases in regulatory testing, education and breeding. At AiSPI we would like to see future decreases in the use of animals in all categories, but especially in education, because there are many ways to replace the use of animals in education without sacrificing learning goals.

Categories of Invasiveness

The 2016 data show decreases in all categories; however, Category D still remains the category with the highest number of animals. At AiSPI we would like to see a significant decrease in the number of animals assigned to Category D. We applaud UBC for having no animals assigned to Category E in both 2015 and 2016 – we encourage them to continue this trend.

Limitations of UBC animal statistics

As per limitations of all CCAC institutions many animals used in dissection for undergraduate teaching are not included in the data provided.