The University of Southampton was one of only five UK universities to fail to respond to a Freedom of Information request concerning the use of animals in scientific testing.
The request from Cruelty Free International contributed to a report on animal testing in UK universities. It found that the University of Oxford topped the list in terms of the number of animals used for testing, with the University using 226,739 animals. Edinburgh University followed with 200,861, with University College London (176,901), King’s College London (165,068), and the University of Cambridge (160,557) completing the top five. In tot, nearly 1 million animal experiments were carried out by these five universities alone.
Dr Katy Taylor, from Cruelty Free International, has called on universities to ‘end this archaic practice and move towards developing innovative and humane research methods for the 21st century’ with some experiments involving monkeys said to involve the animals being deprived of food or water, or having electrodes implanted into their skulls or limbs. In addition, it is claimed that rats had their brains injected with acid in order to cause brain damage.
A spokesman from the University of Oxford said that the institution is ‘determined to carry out research using animals to the highest standards’. He added that:
Each trial is designed to minimise the number of animals used. 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. Research using animals continues to provide important insights, whether into the effects of heart disease or the development of vaccines for major global diseases like malaria.
Universities account for half of all instances of animal testing in the UK, but scientific testing amongst animals remains in the minority.
Wessex Scene has reached out to the University of Southampton for comment.