22,000 animals euthanised at UCC

More than 22,000 animals have been euthanised after being used in scientific research at University College Cork in the last three years.

Almost half of the animals euthanised after being used in research were mice, while fish also comprised a significant portion.

Since the start of 2016, UCC has spent €533,425 on animals for scientific research, according to information released under FoI.

A total of 27,116 animals were purchased by the university for use in research experiments. Of these, 22,641 were euthanised afterwards.

In 2016, €192,351 was spent on 3,732 mice, 377 rats, three rabbits, 25 pigs and 20 guinea pigs. In 2017, the spend increased to €212,378, with 4,073 mice, 648 rats, four rabbits, 33 pigs, six guinea pigs and 1,996 fish.

Last year, UCC spent €128,696 on 3,366 mice, 625 rats, 2 rabbits, 30 pigs, 4 guinea pigs and 12,159 fish.

All of the mice, rats, rabbits and pigs purchased for use in the experiments were euthanised, as were 9,693 of the 14,155 fish purchased. None of the marine mammals or wild birds were euthanised.

Specific details relating to the use of animals in scientific procedures is exempt from disclosures under FOI.

However, a statement provided by UCC notes that alternatives to live animals are widely used where possible.

“The research is undertaken within the University’s Colleges of Medicine and Health, and Science, Engineering, and Food Science, and research institutes associated with them,” said the statement. 

While alternatives to live animal models, for example, cell lines, tissue/biopsy samples, bacterial and yeast models, are widely used within UCC, the use of animals in state-funded scientific research has produced beneficial results to human health that could not otherwise have been achieved.

“For example, the use of state-of-the-art in vivo imaging techniques has resulted in the development of successful methods for the delivery of targeted therapeutics and the use of non-invasive interventions and devices to alleviate chronic disease symptoms and reduce morbidity.

“The university does not carry out any research on live animals for the purposes of cosmetic testing. Projects include cancer research, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel, Crohn’s disease, anxiety and depression, ocular genetics, and obstetrics and gynaecology.”

All research work carried out in UCC on live laboratory animals is performed under conditions laid out under the European Union’s directive on the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes, 2012.

The university also states that all research projects take place under authorisation granted by the Health Products Regulatory Authority and that an animal welfare body and trained animal care staff oversee all research.

“The animals are monitored and checked by a qualified veterinarian,” a spokesperson said. All animals are euthanised in accordance with EU legislation.

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