Fewer animals in experiments last year

More than 187,000 creatures were used in animal experiments in 2010, new figures show.

The federal ministries for science, health and environment announced today (Thurs) that 187,236 animals underwent scientific checks in various experiments last year. The ministries said this figure meant that there has been a decline of 9.9 per cent compared to the previous year. The number of animals used in tests had risen for years until 2009, according to officials.

Mice top the statistics for the last year (148,567) followed by rabbits (16,584), rats (9,281) and guinea pigs at 5,065. More than 2,200 pigs, nearly 2,100 fish as well as some dogs and cats were examined in experiments in 2010.

In what has turned out to be one of the most controversial experiments of the past years in Europe, scientists buried tranquillised pigs in snow to find out how they reacted to conditions similar to those humans experience when caught in avalanches.

Two animal protection organisations reported three researchers for animal cruelty over the tests on the Sölden glacier in the Tyrolean Alps in January 2010. Innsbruck prosecutors announced in March of the same year that they stopped investigating against the scientists who faced suspended jail terms and fines had the prosecution decided to press charges.

The team of Austrian and Italian researchers abandoned the series of tests in the mountains early due to the public outcry news reports about the experiments caused in Austria and abroad. Ten of the 29 animals used in the checks had died by then.