Catalogue of Suffering: Nearly 22 Million Animals Languished in EU Laboratories in 2017

For Immediate Release:

5 February 2020


Sascha Camilli +44 (0) 20 7923 6244; [email protected]


PETA Calls For Halt to All Experiments on Animals in the EU

London – The European Commission has released figures detailing the number of animals used in scientific procedures by EU countries in 2017. Despite EU legislation that ultimately aims to replace all tests on animals with superior, non-animal research methods, 9.39 million animals were starved, bred to have debilitating diseases, cut apart, shot at with rifles, or otherwise traumatised in cruel experiments. This staggeringly high number excludes the additional 12.6 million animals who were killed for their body parts, used as breeding machines, or simply discarded because they didn’t fit the “right” test criteria at the “right” time. PETA and its European affiliates have submitted a petition signed by more than 117,000 people calling on the EU to halt all experiments on animals while their questionable value is assessed.

“Few experiments on animals – no matter how painful or irrelevant – are prohibited by law,” says PETA Science Policy Adviser Dr Julia Baines. “Yet their systemic failure to benefit humans in the areas of neurodegenerative disease, mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and more is well documented. PETA is calling on the EU to reconsider our reliance on these archaic procedures and champion the funding and development of humane and human-relevant technology. This is where the future of science and human health clearly lies.”

Evidence published in The BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) demonstrates that 90% of basic research – most of which involves experiments on animals – doesn’t lead to treatments for humans. US government officials also admit that 95% of all new drugs that test safe and effective on animals fail in human trials, either because they cause adverse effects or because they simply don’t work.

Following years of waiting for updated information, the report confirms that the legislation is failing to protect animals in European laboratories, who are still dying by the millions. The total figures include 16.2 million mice, 1.7 million rats, and 2.5 million fish – who are used principally because they are inexpensive, are considered expendable, are easy to handle, and carry less “sentimental value” compared to other species – as well as 416,594 rabbits, 603,187 birds, 13,918 dogs, 1,883 cats, and 8,432 primates, among other animals. Shut away out of view of the public, these animals are often caged within windowless rooms with barely enough room to stand, let alone climb, dig, forage, or play. They’re typically separated from their families and deprived of everything that is natural and important to them.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – supports the use of scientifically and ethically sound methods that better protect humans, animals, and the environment. For more information, please visit