Animal Life and Death in NZ Science Turns on the Roll of the Dice!

The new Govt report on the use of animals for science in NZ is out now!
May 14, 2024

In New Zealand, national statistics on animals used for science and animals killed for science have been published by the Ministry for Primary Industries for nearly a decade. Since 2019, these reports have included data on the number of animals “bred but not used” for science. These particular animals are clinically classed as “surplus” or “excess” animals and are subsequently killed.

NZAVS is Aotearoa’s only charity 100% dedicated to ending animal experimentation. Each year the charity monitors these published statistics of animal life and death fluctuating up and down. This includes new figures just released from 2022, which show:

More than 200K animals (215,653) were killed in 2022, including:

  • Animals who died or were euthanised during or after manipulations: 56,403.
  • Animals who were killed for their tissues: 24,375.
  • Additional animals who were killed because they were bred for science but were never used: 134,875

You can view these fluctuating figures over the years via these graphs.

“This constant directionless fluctuation of animal life and death demonstrates that Government leadership is required to help support the science sector to innovate and grow efficiently when it comes to using and developing animal-free methods to replace animals in experimentation,” says Miss Tara Jackson, Executive Director at NZAVS. 

NZAVS works hard to collaborate with science institutions across Aotearoa engaged in any aspect of animal use for scientific purposes. Using animals for research, testing, and teaching is a well-documented issue in the science sector. These issues include the lack of funding to access the use and development of animal-free methods to replace animals in experimentation and the out-of-date requirements for animal testing in NZ law.

Members of the scientific community need the option to use animal-free methods, but legal requirements for animal tests in New Zealand currently prohibit this in some areas. For example, the United States is in the process of updating its own rules through amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FDA) Act. With the behemoth of the United States dropping requirements for using animals in many areas of science,1 NZAVS argues that the New Zealand science sector is currently disadvantaged by government policy and legislative settings.

“The scientific community in New Zealand is aligned on their thinking that scientists would not choose to use animals in experiments if validated animal-free methods were accessible. This presents a frictionless environment for the government to make policy adjustments and law change so the sector, as a key contributor to New Zealand’s economic performance, can grow, innovate, and achieve better social outcomes for both people and animals.”

NZAVS helped galvanise members of the animal science and research community to lobby the last government and will now lobby the National-led coalition government to catch up with other countries by (1) allocating funding for the use and development of animal-free research, testing and teaching methods, and (2) committing to phasing out the requirements for animal testing in NZ law and (3) committing to phasing out the use of animals for science as technology permits.

“We understand that the National-led coalition government is adamant that high-performance science and tertiary sectors are vital parts of the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy. We hope they are factoring in the significant global increase in the use of non-animal models in science that is expected in the next 15 years,2 so that New Zealand is well placed to reap the economic benefits from that whilst helping to leave the harmful use of animals out of experimentation. It really is a win-win!

NZAVS will make a submission to the new Science System Advisory Group set up to advise the government on how the science and tertiary sectors can play a greater role in lifting New Zealand's productivity and economic growth.

With your help we can end animal experimentation in Aotearoa.