Information made public by the University of Liverpool earlier this week through a Freedom of Information request have revealed the extent of the University’s use of animals in experiments and testing.
In 2015 the University used 23,157 animals for testing, with 18,102 being mice. The use of animals by universities continues to be a contentious issue, with Liverpool and others subject to debate over whether universities should be taking part in the activity.
Of the 23,157 animals used, 152 were rated ‘non-recovery’, meaning they perished during or soon after the experiment. Additionally, 1,750 mice, 9 rabbits and 7 domestic poultry experienced ‘severe’ pain, meaning they were likely to have at least experienced ‘suffering and discomfort’. Most of the University’s experiments, however, only caused ‘mild’ pain or discomfort, with the range of animals including mice, rats or other rodents, rabbits, cattle, sheep, domestic poultry, zebrafish and other fish. One surprising statistic was the use of 1,575 sheep in experiments – the second largest group of animals – which is uncommon when compared to other, similar institutions.
Testing was most likely conducted at the Leahurst campus on the Wirral, where the Department of Veterinary Clinical Science and Animal Husbandry is based, a specialist facility of which not many universities can boast.
The request was made by Alice Churm on behalf of the Vegetarian and Vegan Society of the Liverpool Guild of Students, as a follow up to recent protests against animal testing in Liverpool, and inspired by similar requests made to Liverpool John Moores University.
The University of Liverpool also stated that in 2015 no animal experiments were conducted for external private companies on University premises, and that the University did not derive profit from animal experimentation. Asked if animals were ‘used for medical or non-medical research’, the University stated that the experiments were for ‘basic, medical, veterinary and biological research’.
From the table of information provided below, it is clear that of the 23,157 animals used as test subjects, fewer than a quarter, or 24.165%, experienced no pain. Though required under Home Office guidelines, no specific references to the use of analgesics were made in the university’s release.
The classifications of the severity of pain, suffering and discomfort can be found here, Appendix G of the Guidance on the Operation (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, page 132.
The original FOI requests were made on https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/university_of_liverpool