OXFORD University has claimed it is committed to reducing the number of animals tested in laboratories after topping a list of institutions using them for research.

According to a study carried out by Cruelty Free International, an anti-vivisection organisation, a total of 226,739 animals were used in experiments at the university in 2014.

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The figures, obtained by a freedom of information request, puts Oxford top of 48 UK universities, with Edinburgh second having tested on 200,861 animals.

Oxford University spokesman Matt Pickles said research is carried out on animals to discover the effects of heart disease, as well as the development of vaccines of major global diseases, but is looking into reducing the number of tests.

He said: “We are committed to replacing and reducing the use of animals wherever possible and to refining procedures to reduce the pain caused. We are not yet at a stage where animal research can be replaced altogether.”

Of those animals tested at Oxford, mice made up 209,686 cases.

Sixty-seven badgers and 32 hedgehogs were also involved in research, but they were tagged, released and monitored in the wild.

University College London, King’s College London, and Cambridge University make up the top five institutions in the study.

Dr Katy Taylor, director of science at Cruelty Free International, said: “The public will be shocked to learn that five of the UK’s leading universities are responsible for testing on almost one million animals.

“We urge them to leave this archaic practice behind and move towards developing innovative and humane research methods for the 21st century.”

However, Mr Pickles said the research is carried out to the highest standards.

He added: “Animal care, including veterinary care, is provided around the clock.

“We are clear that no procedure using animals should be undertaken lightly and staff will challenge any behaviour that risks falling below the high standards we set ourselves.”


TESTED at Oxford University in 2014:

  • Mice  209,686
  • Rats   3,408
  • Fish   13,136
  • Non-human primates  5
  • Guinea pigs   81
  • Ferrets    27
  • Frogs 280
  • Pigs   3
  • Badgers*   67
  • Hedgehogs*  32
  • Birds   12
  • Rabbits  2

*Animals tagged, released and monitored in the wild