Animal Experimentation in Germany: Figures, Facts and More

In Germany, millions of animals are misused for “scientific” purposes each year. Even if the numbers dropped in 2020, this does not mean that policy and research in this area would make significant progress – as due to restrictions during the corona lockout, some research activities (which do not test COVID) have been limited and therefore many experiments on animals have been suspended or canceled. Despite great promises, countless animals are still tortured and killed in German research laboratories.

Find out here what animal experiments are being carried out in Germany, which and how many animals are abused – and how you can take action against cruel experiments.

Millions of animals are used in trials and experiments in Germany

In German research laboratories, countless animals are still misused in chemical toxicity testing, in animal experiments for drug development, and for other purposes such as education and training. Almost half of the animals were abused in basic research. [1]

2020: The official number of abused animals drops to 2.5 million

According to official information, the number of experiments with 2.5 million battered animals in Germany in 2020 was lower than in previous years [1] – but this is only seemingly good news: because the reason is not that the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) has announced its intention to reduce the number of animal experiments [2], it happened, but most of all the crown pandemic. Due to limitations during the blockade, many non-COVID research activities were reduced, resulting in many animal experiments being suspended or discontinued.

This has particularly affected experiments required by law, such as chemical safety testing and the protection of genetically modified animals. The situation was different in basic and applied research; in these areas the number has even increased. It is therefore difficult to assume that this is a trend reversal.

Coming to the official numbers another about 4 million animalswhich are bred, killed as ‘surplus’ and dumped as trash – this figure is hidden in the annual statistics and was most recently recorded for 2017. [3]

animal testing 2020

More animal experiments with hamsters, horses and sheep

The number of battered hamsters in 2020 was over 2,100 animals, about 1,000 animals more than in the previous year. While the number of dogs and cats decreased compared to the previous year (dogs from almost 3,500 to over 2,500, cats from almost 1,000 to 640), the number of guinea pigs, ferrets, cattle and sheep increased. A total of 27,420 of them suffered in German test laboratories in 2020. Particularly striking is the increase in the number of abused horses and donkeys: from around 1,400 animals in 2019, that number has now increased to over 2,200 animals – an increase of 180 percent. [1, 2]

The development of the number of animal experiments in Germany over the years

In the years leading up to the crown pandemic, the number of animals used in animal experiments increased – contrary to the plans to reduce them as much as possible, announced for years.

2019 2,902,348 animals
2018 2,825,066 animals
2017 2,807,297 animals
2016 2,854,586 animals
2015 2,799,961 animals
2014 2,798,463 animals
2013 2,997,152 animals
2012 3,080,727 animals
2011 2,911,705 animals
2010 2,856,316 animals
2009 2,786,331 animals
2008 2 692 890 animals
2007 2,609,483 animals
2006 2,518,267 animals
2005 2,412,678 animals
2004 2,265,489 animals
2003 2,112,341 animals
2002 2,212,376 animals
2001 2,126,561 animals
2000 1,825,215 animals

Note: since 2014, the number of registered animals has slightly changed compared to the previous ones.

  • 2019: 2,902,348 battered animals

    The number of abused animals was almost 3 million [2] – an increase by almost 100,000 animals compared to the previous year. In addition, there are countless other animals that have been bred and killed as “surplus” that are not recorded in the statistics.

    More monkeys, cats, rabbits, birds and fish

    The number of abused monkeys in 2019 amounted to over 3,400 animals – about 100 monkeys more than in the previous year. While the number of dogs has dropped to around 3,500 animals, compared to almost 4,000 in the previous year, the number of cats has risen to almost 1,000 from almost 800 the previous year. More rabbits (title: Shocking Rabbit Experiments) (85,645 to 94,679) and birds (39,745 to 43,783) suffered in German research laboratories in 2019. The increase in the number of abused fish in 2019 is especially noticeable: From nearly 230,000 animals in 2018, that number has now increased to nearly 400,000 animals – equivalent to one Increase by 73.3%!

  • 2018: 2,825,066 battered animals

    In 2018, around 2.83 million animals were used for “scientific” purposes, and most of them were also killed. [4] Compared to 2017, there was a slight increase in numbers: in 2017, the total number of animals was 2,807,297. Compared to the previous year, the number of battered dogs and cats also increased: in 2018, there were almost 4,000 dogs in the animal testing laboratory and over 750 cats. The number of primates “used” is still alarmingly high at around 3,300.

  • 2017: 2,807,297 battered animals

    In 2017, approximately 2.8 million animals were tortured and killed in various ways in various trials and experiments.

Which animal species are misused for animal experiments in Germany?

In Germany, animal experiments are most often carried out in rodents – especially mice and rats. But many other animal species also suffer from experimentation and experimentation, since only great apes are truly safe from animal experimentation:

  • monkeys
  • fishes
  • frogs
  • donkey
  • hamster
  • dogs
  • squid and octopus [1]
  • Rabbits
  • cats
  • mice
  • guinea pig
  • horses
  • rats
  • sheep
  • pig’s
  • birds
  • worms
  • reptiles like bearded dragons [5] and snakes [6]
  • Various insects

Animals are sentient beings who desire an intact life without suffering and pain. The use of animals for “scientific purposes” is immoral and species-related.

Why is animal experimentation allowed in Germany?

In Germany, under the Animal Welfare Act, animal experiments can only be officially carried out when there is no alternative – but whether or not non-animal methods would be a suitable substitute or not is a matter of interpretation. Animal testing is required by law for drugs.

While science largely agrees that animals feel and feel pain, countless numbers are used in animal experiments around the world. In Germany too, experiments with live animals are still allowed for many different purposes:

  • basic tests
  • Research on diseases and health condition of humans and animals – also taking into account the conditions of agricultural “livestock”
  • Protection of the environment in the interests of human and animal health
  • Drug, food, etc. safety testing
  • Testing the effectiveness of substances against animal “pests”
  • Species protection studies
  • Education, training and further education
  • Forensic research [7]

Many people are realizing that animal experiments are only being carried out in this country when animal rights activists uncover scandals related to animal experimentation.

We need a binding animal testing phase-out plan

For a sustained decline in numbers, we need a binding exit strategy. Under the coalition agreement, the new federal government committed for the first time to actually developing an appropriate strategy – but initially only to reduce animal experimentation [8] instead of withdrawing to promote non-animal methods more generously at the same time.

Now politicians should do better and improve animal welfare in Germany. The traffic light coalition has promised a lot: a strategy to reduce animal experimentation and create an interdepartmental competence center to promote animal-free methods. Both the Greens and the SPD have included a plan to phase out animal testing in their election manifestos.

We will see if the new government, unlike the government of the last 16 years, will follow his words and deeds. Because the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which is responsible for animal welfare in Germany, has for years set itself the long-term goal of completely replacing animal testing “as soon as possible”.

EU Citizens’ Initiative to phase out animal testing – help now!

Animal testing is ethically and scientifically unjustified. That’s why scientists at PETA Germany and our international partner organizations have produced countless scientific studies that illustrate the failure of animal experiments.

In parallel, they developed a strategy for phasing out animal testing to accelerate medical and scientific progress: an agreement to modernize research. In doing so, we offer authorities and policymakers: in-house scientific support to implement a long overdue strategy to phase out wasteful animal testing – in favor of animal-free methods that produce results relevant to humans.

The exit plan is also more relevant at EU level than ever before: We need it million signaturesbringing the matter to the European Commission with the EU Citizens’ Initiative Against Animal Testing. In addition to enforcing the animal testing ban on cosmetics and the EU Chemicals Without Animal Testing Regulation, the initiative calls for a plan to phase out animal testing. Every vote counts!

  • Sources

    [1] German Center for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (2021): Use of laboratory animals in 2020, https://www.bf3r.de/de/utilization_of_experimental_animals_im_year_2020-288932.html (accessed on June 7, 2022)

    [2] Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Use of laboratory animals in 2019, https://www.bmel.de/DE/themen/tiere/tierschutz/versuchstierzahlen2019.html (accessed May 24, 2022)

    [3] Print 19/18520 of 1 April 2020: Federal government response to a small question from MEPs Renate Künast, Kai Gehring, Kordula Schulz-Asche, other MEPs and the BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN parliamentary group,
    http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btd/19/185/1918520.pdf (accessed on May 24, 2022)

    [4] Use of laboratory animals in 2018, https://www.bmel.de/DE/Tier/Tierschutz/_texte/Versuchstierzahlen2018.html (accessed May 24, 2022)

    [5] AnimalTestInfo: Brain Functions in Bearded Dragons, https://www.animaltestinfo.de/dsp_show_ntp.cfm?ntpID=42146&showPage=qry_param_showPage&CFID=33768248&CFTOKEN=a233fa67938dde25-A7CA-51EB288-2CAB06-EB2

    [6] AnimalTestInfo: Prey’s Attack Snakes, https://www.animaltestinfo.de/dsp_show_ntp.cfm?ntpID=33706&showPage=qry_param_showPage&CFID=33768248&CFTOKEN=a233fa67938dde25-A7B06-E72-9D06-E72-9AD06-E72-9AD06-E72.9A

    [7] Federal Office of Justice: Animal Welfare Act § 71, https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/tierschg/__7a.html (accessed June 7, 2022)

    [8] Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (2021): Laboratory animals decreased significantly in 2020, https://www.bmel.de/SharedDocs/Press Releases / DE / 2021/183-versuchstierzahlen.html (accessed June 7, 2022)

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