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 3,570,352 animals were used in 2015. This is a 4.8% decrease from 2014.

Species used

Notably, the numbers of mice, cattle, guinea pigs, ‘other rodents’, and rabbits have increased between 2014 and 2015. Some important decreases were seen in the numbers of fish, cats, dogs and nonhuman primates.

SpeciesNumber of animals
reported in 2014
Number of animals
reported in 2015
Mice12331961399724
Cattle163342346601
Guinea Pigs2028727776
Other Rodents1217713506
Rabbits54675506

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 1996-2015. The missing data point for 2010 is due to erroneous national data that is being re-evaluated.

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 1996-2015. The missing data point for 2010 is due to erroneous data that is being reevaluated. Data for Category A is not published for any year.

It is valuable to understand which types of animal use are in which Category of Invasiveness (CI). The following table shows Purpose of Animal Use data (e.g. basic research, medical research etc.) broken down by Category of Invasiveness (CI) for 2015.

Basic ResearchMedical ResearchRegulatory TestingProduct DevelopmentEducation
CI B566242634145823441998660723
CI C988371131589341811996671551
CI D730242273041108785801634714
CI E1527415737423673094174

Of particular note, high numbers of regulatory testing protocols were assigned to Category E, and 174 animals were listed under Category E for teaching. Of concern, is that animals are used in teaching are subjected to Category E procedures, despite a 1989 national policy that dictates that painful procedures involving animals for the purposes of teaching cannot be justified. Species assigned to Category E for teaching include: mice, salamanders, shrews and voles.

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.

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.” NB. Due to an error on the UBC animal research website, the data here only go up to 2014 – this will be updated as soon as possible.

Categories of Invasiveness

Limitations of UBC animal statistics

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