A total of 615,906 animals were used for research, testing and teaching purposes over the two-year period of 2017 and 2018.
The Ministry for Primary Industries has published their official reports on the animals used in New Zealand during 2017 and 2018.
There were 314,571 animals used in 2017 and 301,335 used in 2018.
Many of these animals died with 54 per cent and 35 per cent of the total number of animals used in 2017 and 2018 being killed for, during or after use in research, testing or teaching.
"A wide variety of species are used in science in NZ, from mice and rats to cats, dogs, zebrafish and bats and the way that these animals are used is just as diverse," says The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society executive director, Tara Jackson.
Cows (102,520 in total) were the most used animals in 2018 whereas fish (101,167 in total) were in 2017. Over 2,600 dogs and 700 cats were used in 2018 alone.
Among the more surprising species used in 2018 were spider monkeys and chimpanzees. Further details were provided on the use of the chimpanzees who had blood samples taken during a separate procedure. However, details on the use of the spider monkeys were not provided.
"These reports highlight how far we still have to go as a country in eliminating animal experimentation and how many animals are still suffering behind closed doors. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Examples of the high impact studies mentioned in the reports include:
Rabbits being used to try and develop a surgically induced model of bladder dysfunction.
Caged possums being fed 1080.
Cows being fistulated.
Guinea pigs being used to test animal vaccines.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many animals who will have suffered and died in NZ labs whose stories we’ll never get to hear,” says Tara.
"While the most evident part of these reports is that thousands of animals are still used in unacceptable ways, if you dig a bit deeper there is a tiny glimmer of hope.
"The new format of these reports now tells us more than we’ve ever known about how many animals are used in science. A wider scope of animals is now captured in the annual statistics including animals purposely bred with compromised welfare and animals who were killed for the purpose of using their tissues.
"While these may sound like small changes, any progress in making this well-hidden industry more transparent is a change worth celebrating. These changes haven’t come out of nowhere either, they’re a result of the hard work of many people behind the scenes including staff at MPI,” says Tara.