UBC used nearly 212,000 research animals in 2010
School aiming for transparency but reveals unexpectedly high number
Newly released data from the University of British Columbia shows the institution conducted research involving nearly 212,000 animals in 2010.
University officials say they've put the information online to be more transparent, making the school the first in Canada to publicize such details.
But the transparency has only served to incense organizations like Stop UBC Animal Research, according to the group’s director Brian Vincent.
"[It’s] shocking," said Vincent. "UBC has maintained over the last year and a half or so that they experimented on about 100,000 animals a year and yet the data released [Friday] for 2010 shows that the number of animals used at UBC has doubled."
UBC says its research is humane and represents less than six per cent of all similar research conducted across the country and a huge proportion of the work is done with small animals.
"Ninety-seven per cent of the animals that are part of these studies are rodents, mice, rats, fish and frogs, primarily," said Helen Burt, a professor of pharmaceuticals at UBC.
However, more than 4,000 animals used in research were medium to large mammals or marine mammals.
"UBC has admitted in their data that 31 animals — though we don't know what kinds of animals — were exposed to these highly invasive procedures," said Vincent.
Vincent said those procedures involved experiments causing stress, severe suffering, or even death to animals.
But Burt said the schools acts humanely.
"Every animal, if it's anticipated that there will be painful procedure, they are administered anesthesia or pain medication," she said.
With files from the CBC's Chad Pawson and The Canadian Press