In 2021, a total of 130,168 animals were involved in 419 research and teaching protocols at UBC.
The 20% increase in the numbers of animals involved in 2021 was due in part to the resumption of many research activities following their curtailment in 2020 due to the pandemic. The number of animals involved in research in 2021 remained 14% lower than the 2019 total.
Rodents account for 51 per cent of the total number of all animals involved in research at UBC last year, and 97 per cent of the mammals. Small mammals, large mammals and marine mammals collectively represented a little over one per cent of the total. The number of large mammals involved in research decreased to 1,385 in 2021 from 1,659 in 2020. Other animals involved in research were fish (36 per cent) birds (less than 0.5 per cent) and reptiles and amphibians (11 per cent).
By animal type
How were the animals involved in research?
The Canadian Council on Animal Care divides animal research into five Categories of Invasiveness (A to E). Category A includes most experiments involving tissue cultures, eggs and single-cell organisms and does not require annual reporting.
Almost 52 per cent of animals involved in research at UBC in 2021 fall under categories B or C. The invasiveness ranges from little discomfort and stress to minor stress and pain. For a wide range of animals this could include observation in the wild, brief periods of restraint for tagging, taking blood samples and minor surgical biopsies under anesthesia. In Category D studies, rated for moderate to severe distress or discomfort, there was a 4 per cent decrease in the number of animals involved in 2021 compared to 2020. One rodent was involved in a category E study.
By purpose of use
The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) divides the purposes for which we involve animals into six categories.
Purpose 0: Breeding
The number of animals in research involving breeding was 2,422 in 2021, compared 6,768 in 2020.
Purpose 1: Basic Research
61 per cent per cent of animals were part of UBC’s inquiries in scientific disciplines that include biology, psychology, physiology and biochemistry. The number of aniamls involved in Basic Research increased by 28 per cent compared to 2020 (79,483 in 2021, compared to 61,997 in 2020).
Purpose 2: Medical and Veterinary Research
This use of animals provides treatments for diseases that improve health care outcomes for both humans and animals. In 2021 there was an 18 per cent increase in the number of animals used in this category, compared to 2020. (43,308 in 2021, compared to 36,619 in 2020.)
Purposes 3 and 4: Regulatory Testing
Canadian law dictates that animals be research models before humans in regulatory trials for drugs and general medical products. That requirement includes vaccines and medical hardware such as stents and heart valves. UBC makes every effort to minimize the number animals used for regulatory testing. In 2021, 2 per cent of animals were involved in this area at UBC.
Purpose 5: Educational Purposes
Educational use of research animals includes several fields of study at UBC. All animal use in teaching at UBC must be approved by individual faculties and the University Senate. Where possible, vertebrate animals are replaced by invertebrates. Less than 2 per cent of animals involved in UBC research were used for educational purposes in 2021.
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