More than 16,500 animals have been used for research purposes at NUI Galway during the past four years.
Last year alone, the university spent almost €160,000 to procure 3,140 live animals, while a further €4,300 was paid to dispose of carcasses following the conclusion of experiments.
Animals used in the research include rabbits, rats, mice, fish, and frogs.
Current regulations governing the use of animals for scientific purposes permit animal-based research only where there is no alternative method of experimentation that would avoid the use of an animal.
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 16,552 animals were bought by NUI Galway between 2012 and 2015 for use in scientific research.
Last year, it bought 1,977 rats at a total cost of €112,710; 871 mice costing €42,336; 52 frogs for €3,225; and it spent €125 on 240 zebrafish embryos.
The cost of removing dead animals that had been used in experiments, described by the university as “waste disposal”, amounted to €4,296 during 2015.
The departments involved in animal-based research at the NUI Galway include the school of natural sciences, school of medicine, and the school of engineering.
Animal-welfare group PACA (People Against Cruelty to Animals) said there were a large number of humane alternatives to the use of animals in research, including in-vitro testing, computer modelling, microdosing, and stem-cell research.
NUI Galway said research with animals is only conducted when researchers have demonstrated that alternative methods have been exhausted. “NUI Galway does not perform ‘testing’ on animals but does conduct research. The majority of the research work that takes place at [the University] is basic, translational or applied research,” it stated.
“Research with animals is undertaken only when the researchers clearly demonstrate that all in-vitro alternatives have been exhausted, as required by current legislation.”
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