In 2019, Foundation AnimalfreeResearch approached the 3RCC to obtain more information on the number of animals used in education and training than what is offered by the Federal statistics. Indeed, the FVB does not provide information on the type of training the animals were used for. In Switzerland, on average ca. 7’500 animals are used for the purposes of education and training every year. Thus, there is a need to provide the public and decision-makers with verified figures from institutions that use animals in training as well as information on the number of animals, the species and the type of training for which they are used.
In 2019, the 3RCC surveyed eleven Swiss universities, that are part of the 3RCCs executive board in order to better understand why and how they use animals for educational and training purposes. This included the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zurich), Universität Basel (UniBas), Universität Bern (UniBE), RESAL [Réseau des Animalerie du Léman (Université de Genève (UniGE), Université de Fribourg (UniFr), Université de Lausanne (Unil), Centre Hospitalier des Universités Vaudoise (CHUV), Hôpitaux Universitaires Genevois (HUG), Campus Biotech], USI, UZH, FHNW, ZHAW. The survey captured i) the number of animals used in 2018 according to groups of species (mice; other laboratory rodents such as rats; rabbits, dogs, cats and primates; farm animals; others (e.g. fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles); ii) the course topic (general biology, human medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacology, toxicology, specific high-level courses, other); and iii) severity degrees (from 0 to 3). Additional questions were provided to evaluate the use of alternative methods and barriers to implement animal-free alternatives.
A total of 6,925 animals were used in 2018 in Swiss Institutions of Higher Education (see the Graphical Report 19_03). The degree of severity was mild for the majority of animals, whereas 6% experienced no harm. While HEIs are aware of the aspects of 3Rs in education and training, the lack of alternatives, teaching experience and financial reasons were found as main obstacles for a broader implementation.
Christopher R. Cederroth (3RCC), Armand Mensen (3RCC); Paulin Jirkof; Philippe Bugnon; Matias Yamahachi; Stéphanie Claudinot.