Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
For decades, animals have been used in testing and research across a variety of industries. From cosmetics development to the study of human drugs and diseases, experiments on animals are a part of them all. Some believe animal testing is the best way to keep humans safe and advance medical discovery. Others are horrified that such research comes at the cost of animal suffering and death. Whatever side of the debate you fall on (or if you’re neutral on the subject), here are 20 animal testing statistics you need to know including:
- The Number of Animals Used In Testing
- What Animals Are Used For Which Testing And Where
- The Ethical Dilemmas And The Future of Animal Testing
20 Animal Testing Statistics
- An estimated 100 million animals are used in experiments each year in the United States.
- The UK conducted 2.9 million experiments involving animals in 2020.
- The most reliable worldwide count from 2015 estimated that at least 192.1 million animals are being used for scientific research worldwide.
- 3 million experiments on animals were performed in the European Union in 2018.
- Mice were the primary species used in EU scientific research in 2018, making up 52.1% of the total animals.
- The US conducts 53% of research on rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs.
- Birds, fish, and rodents make up 96% of animal research subjects in the UK.
- In the UK, 54% of animal testing experiments are conducted by universities.
- Massachusetts has the highest number of (protected) research animals of any US state, 84,798 total in 2019.
- The National Institute of Health (NIH) owns over 7,000 monkeys used for research.
- Over 70% of research monkeys used in the US are imported from China.
- The NIH spends an estimated 14.5 billion taxpayer dollars on animal testing each year.
- Between 85%-95% of research animals are not protected by law.
- Only 8% of drugs tested on animals are eventually approved for human use.
- 21% of countries in the world—41 in total—have full or partial bans on cosmetic testing in animals.
- 56% of Americans believe using animals for scientific research is “morally acceptable.”
- 68% of people surveyed in the UK want all animal testing to end.
- 34% of research animals in the US were involved in painful experiments.
- There are almost 50 available non-animal research tests, with more in development.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to decrease animal experiments by 30% by 2025.
The Number of Animals Used In Testing
1. An estimated 100 million animals are used for experiments each year in the United States. (HSUS)
Unfortunately, there’s no reliable way to determine exactly how many animals are used for testing in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) only maintains a count of research animals protected by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA.) Rats, mice, and birds are not protected, despite being the most common species used for testing.
2. The UK performed 2.9 million experiments involving animals in 2020. (Cruelty-Free)
About half of these procedures involved breeding genetically-altered animals, while the other half were experiments performed on animals. Twenty-eight percent of these experiments caused moderate to severe suffering.
3. The most reliable worldwide count, conducted in 2015, estimated that at least 192.1 million animals are used for testing and research globally. (Cruelty-Free)
Global figures are extremely hard to track with accuracy because every country classifies research animals differently and not all share their information. The top three countries for animal testing are the United States, China, and Japan.
4. 12.3 million experiments on animals were performed in the EU in 2018. (Cruelty-Free)
These figures—the latest available—still include numbers from the UK, which conducted the highest number of tests. Germany and France were next in line. These three countries were responsible for more than half of the animal testing in the EU.
What Animals Are Used For Which Testing And Where
5. Mice made up 52.1% of the total animals used in research in the EU in 2018, the most of any species. (Speaking Of Research EU)
After mice, the next most used species were fish at 26.2% and rats at 9.5%. Cats, dogs, and non-human primates (monkeys) made up only 0.3% of all tests conducted.
6. The US conducts 53% of research on rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs.(Speaking of Research US)
Unlike the EU, the US does not maintain stats on all species used, only those protected by the Animal Welfare Act, which does not include mice, fish, or rats. This makes it hard to produce accurate numbers on all animals used in testing. From the available numbers, we know the US tests more on dogs and cats (10%) and monkeys (9%) than the EU.
7. Birds, fish, and rodents make up 96% of research subjects in the UK. (Speaking of Research US)
Unlike the US, the UK does include these species in its statistics. From this data, we see that the UK conducts the vast majority of its testing on mice, rats, fish, and birds.
8. In the UK, 54% of experiments were conducted by universities in 2020. (UK Gov)
In addition, 27% of experiments were carried out by commercial laboratories. This was an increase of 5% over the number of procedures performed in 2019. University research is generally carried out using taxpayer money.
9. Massachusetts has the highest number of (protected) research animals of any US state, 84,798 total in 2019. (USDA)
The top three species used in experiments in this state are guinea pigs (22,876), rabbits (17,581), and non-human primates (16,573). Kansas and California are the next highest states for animal testing. The total protected species used across the US in 2019 was 797,546.
10. The NIH owns over 7,000 monkeys used for research. (Science)
The NIH (National Institute of Health) uses monkeys primarily for medical research. In a 2020 spending bill, Congress instructed the NIH and other government institutions to develop plans to reduce the use of monkeys in testing.
11. Over 70% of research monkeys used in the US are imported from China. (Wiley)
China’s monkey stock is the product of breeding operations, most of which rely on animals imported from outside the country. Currently, China is facing a shortage of research monkeys due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on imports and export.
12. The NIH spends an estimated 14.5 billion taxpayer dollars on animal testing each year. (ALDF)
This number doesn’t include the money spent by other government organizations like the FDA or private organizations. Recent US budgets have proposed an increase in funding for the NIH, particularly in breeding programs to address the shortage of research monkeys.
13. Between 85%-95% of research animals are not protected by law in the United States. (ALDF)
We already mentioned that the Animal Welfare Act excludes the majority of animals used for research in the United States. The animals not protected are not counted in national statistics and no one knows how many there are or what kind of experiments they are used in. Using these animals also exempts research facilities from any requirement to find alternative testing methods.
The Ethical Dilemmas And The Future of Animal Testing
14. Only 8% of drugs tested on animals are eventually approved for human use. (ALDF)
Critics of animal testing point to this statistic when arguing that the practice offers minimal reward for the money spent and pain inflicted on research animals. This fuels the call for a move away from animal testing in favor of more effective newer technologies.
15. 21% of countries worldwide—41 in total—have full or partial bans on animal cosmetic testing. (HSUS)
The EU banned cosmetic testing in 2013. In the United States, only eight states have banned cosmetic testing on animals. Unlike China, which historically has required all cosmetics to first be tested on animals, the US Food and Drug Administration has no animal testing requirement for cosmetics.
16. 56% of Americans believe using animals for medical research is “morally acceptable.” (Gallup)
Based on a poll conducted in May 2020, this number represents a decrease over about 20 years, with 65% of Americans in 2001 believing it was morally acceptable. However, the 2019 poll found 51% of Americans support animal use in medical research, so the number appears to be rising again.
17. 68% of people surveyed in the UK want all animal testing to end.
Based on a poll conducted in 2021, this data shows that animal testing is unpopular in the UK. The same survey found that 70% of UK residents support phasing out medical testing by 2040. Support was also high (60%) for government investment in animal testing alternatives.
18. 34% of research animals in the United States were involved in painful experiments in 2019.
(Speaking of Research US)
Again, these figures only apply to animals covered under the AWA. Mice, rats, fish, and birds are left out. Twenty-eight percent of painful experiments allowed or required anesthesia, while 6% did not due to concern over the impact on the results.
19. There are almost 50 non-animal research alternatives available, with more in development.
With improvements in technology, the alternatives to animal testing continue to grow. Animal testing alternatives are often more cost-effective and lack ethical and moral dilemmas.
20. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to decrease testing on mammals by 30% by 2025. (EPA)
The agency also plans to phase out all testing on mammals by 2035, with rare exceptions. The EPA has been moving to switch to non-animal testing wherever they can over the past several years. An estimated 200,000 lab animals have already been saved thanks to their efforts.
Frequently Asked Questions About Animal Testing
What Protections Exist For Research Animals In The United States?
The Animal Welfare Act, which became law in 1966, established basic standards for housing, nutrition, veterinary care, and humane treatment for research animals. However, as we mentioned earlier, the act only covers certain mammal species and completely excludes mice, rats, invertebrates, reptiles, fish, and birds.
Another policy, the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Use of Laboratory Animals covers more species but generally only applies to university labs. Research facilities also must establish an animal care committee to review all proposed animal experiments. Labs are also subject to state and local regulations, and many states have stronger animal welfare laws. (NCBI)
What Type Of Testing Is Performed On Animals?
Research animals are subjected to many different types of procedures. Many are deliberately exposed to chemicals and drugs. Others are intentionally burned and wounded to study healing or subjected to surgical procedures. Procedures may also involve pain, genetic manipulation, and distressing behavioral experiments. (HSI)
Do Animals Ever Survive The Testing?
It’s estimated that only about 3% of animal test subjects survive their experiments. Those that do are often put back into the mix for other procedures. However, even animals enrolled in non-terminal studies, especially dogs and cats, are often kept isolated and deprived of normal activity and the chance to form social bonds. (NURSA)
Are Research Animals Ever Available For Adoption?
The good news is that more and more facilities and states now have laws and rules about adopting out former research animals–usually dogs and cats–once they’ve served their time in the lab. The FDA, NIH, and Department of Veterans Affairs all have adoption policies. (PetMD)
What Are Some of The Alternatives To Animal Testing?
Some common alternatives to animal testing include computer modeling and testing on laboratory-grown cells instead of living species. Scientists can grow test cells from samples taken from human cheek swabs. This type of testing is often more accurate when testing human drugs and diseases because animal test subjects are very different biologically than humans. (ASBMB)
As you can see, the frequency and type of animal testing vary quite a bit depending on where you are in the world. Attitudes and acceptance of animal testing are also somewhat dependent on your location. Research on animals is overall controversial, with strong opinions on either side of the debate. With more and more approved non-animal research methods, options for avoiding animal testing are available. The challenge will be convincing the research system and scientists to change their traditional ways of operating.
Featured Image Credit: unoL, Shutterstock