UBC Animal Numbers

In 2017, a total of 171,169 animals were involved in 502 research and teaching protocols at UBC.

Birds, small mammals, large mammals and marine mammals each represent less than two per cent of total animals involved in research at UBC last year.

More than 96 per cent of the mammals involved in research were rodents (56.9 per cent of the total number of animals). Other animals involved in research were fish (26 per cent) and reptiles (13.1 per cent).

All 2017 data

By animal type

Animal Type Number Percentage
Rodents 97,458 56.9%
Fish 44,506 26.0%
Reptiles/Amphibians 22,475 13.1%
Birds 2,971 1.7%

Small Mammals

1,179 0.7%
Large Mammals 2,546 1.5%
Marine Mammals 34 0.02%
Total 171,169  

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.

More than 54 per cent of animals involved in research at UBC in 2017 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 1.3 per cent increase from 2016, a less than proportional rise in the overall number of animals involved.

No animals were involved in category E studies representing severe pain, at, or above the pain tolerance of unanesthetized conscious animals.

Category Number  Percentage
B 31,181 18.21%
C 61,444 35.89%
D 78,544 45.88%
E 0 0%
Total 171,169  

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 10,956 in 2017, compared to 3,192 in 2016.

Purpose 1: Basic Research - 59 per cent per cent of animals were part of UBC’s inquiries in science disciplines that include biology, psychology, physiology and biochemistry. The number of Basic Research animals decreased by 0.6 per cent to 97,986, compared to 98,553 in 2016.

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 2017 there was an 7.2 per cent decrease in the number of animals used in this category compared to 2016. (54,394 in 2017, vs. 58,613 in 2016.)

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 2017, 1.9 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. Approximately 2.6 per cent of animals involved in UBC research were used for educational purposes in 2016.

Purpose Of Use Number Percentage
0 10,956 6.4%
1 97,986 57.2%
2 54,394 31.8%
3,4 3,307 1.9%
5 4,526 2.6%
Total 171,169