UBC Animal Numbers

In 2020, a total of 108,223 animals were involved in 496 research and teaching protocols at UBC.

The 28% reduction in the numbers of animals involved in 2020 was due in part to the disruption in 2020 research activity caused by the pandemic.

Rodents account for 52 per cent of the total number of all animals involved in research at UBC last year, and 96 per cent of the mammals. Small mammals, large mammals and marine mammals collectively represented two per cent of the total. 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. Other animals involved in research were fish (25 per cent) birds (less than 1 per cent) and reptiles and amphibians (20 per cent).

By animal type

Animal Type Number Percentage
Rodents 56,217 52%
Fish 27,171 25%
Reptiles/Amphibians 21,935 20%
Birds 425 0.4%
Small Mammals 785 1%
Large Mammals 1,659 2%
Marine Mammals 31 0.03%
Total 108,223  


2020 Animals by 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.

More than 39 per cent of animals involved in research at UBC in 2020 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 20 per cent decrease in the number of animals involved in 2020 compared to 2019. Ten rodents were involved in category E studies.

Category Number  Percentage
B 20,871 19%
C 21,575 20%
D  65,767 61%
E 10 0.01%
Total 108,223  


2020 by invasiveness

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 6,768 in 2020 compared to 5,041 in 2019.

Purpose 1: Basic Research
57 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 30 per cent to 61,997 in 2020 compared to 88,713 in 2019.

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 2020 there was an 30 per cent decrease in the number of animals used in this category compared to 2019. (36,619 in 2020, compared to 52,169 in 2019).

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 2020, one 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 two per cent of animals involved in UBC research were used for educational purposes in 2020.

Purpose Of Use Number Percentage
0 6,768 6%
1 61,997 57%
2 36,619 34%
3,4 1,199 1%
5 1,640 2%
Total 108,223  


2020 by purpose of use