Animal use statistics

Animal use reporting

In accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019 (POCTA Regs), holders of Scientific Procedures Premises Licences (SPPL), Scientific Procedures Fieldwork Licences (SPFL), and Specified Animals Breeding Licences (SABL) are required to submit an annual return on their animal use.

The licence holder is responsible for submitting a complete and accurate return.


The annual returns consist of three parts which can be found in the Forms page.

Annual use statistics

Animal Welfare Victoria reports on the number of animals used for science each year in Victoria.

The annual statistics from the reports:

  • guide policy and compliance programs
  • inform the community about the nature and purpose of the animals used for science in Victoria.

Animal use for research and teaching in Victoria reports

2017 report

2016 report

2015 report

2014 report

2013 report

2012 report

2011 report

2010 report

2009 report

To obtain hard copies of these reports or reports from earlier years, email:

Guide to reading the reports

What 'involved in scientific research or teaching' means

This refers to procedures or treatments that animals undergo for scientific research or education.

Branches of science involved

All branches of science that interact with animals are involved, including:

  • medical
  • dental
  • veterinary
  • agricultural
  • behavioural
  • biological
  • ecological.

Types of animals counted

The types of animals counted in the statistics are:

  • mammals above the mid-point of gestation
  • birds and reptiles above the mid-point of incubation or gestation
  • fish and amphibians capable of independent feeding
  • adult decapod crustaceans and cephalopods.

Data collection

Organisations and individuals licensed to use animals for research and teaching gather the data and submit them annually to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions for compilation into statistics.

Organisations licensed to use animals

Licensed institutions include:

  • universities
  • hospitals
  • government departments of agriculture and the environment
  • research institutions
  • schools
  • private companies.

Who approves the animal use?

Prior to an animal being used for research or teaching, an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) must be convinced that the animal use is justified. They weigh the predicted scientific or educational value of the projects against the potential effects on the welfare of the animals.

Researchers must adhere to the principles of the three R's (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) and demonstrate that:

  • there is no way to gain the scientific knowledge without animals
  • they are using the least number of animals necessary to achieve a result
  • any pain or distress is avoided or minimised.

Variations in animal numbers and types

The number and type of animals used fluctuates year by year for various reasons.

  • Funding focus, technological advances and economic factors.
  • Individual projects may dramatically increase the total numbers for particular years.

In 2011, for example, 1,000,000 poultry were used in a single project on a commercial farming property. This project significantly increased the number of animals reported to have been used for scientific purposes for that year.

Invasive procedures

Not all procedures are invasive. Some procedures involve behavioural observations or non-invasive measurements like weighing.

In 2017:

  • roughly 42% of animals were subjected to procedures with minimal impact
  • a further 23% had a 'minor procedure' such as injections or blood sampling
  • 4% had a minor operation under full anaesthetic such as a biopsy
  • of the remaining 21%, around 1% were in the high impact category 'Death as an endpoint' where the animals were killed, but not humanely euthanased.

Scientific procedures involving death as the endpoint require approval from the Minister for Agriculture.

Fate of animals after scientific procedure

Depending on how the animals were used, they may be:

  • returned to the wild
  • continue to live on farms
  • rehomed
  • used for further analysis
  • humanely killed.
Page last updated: 01 Jun 2021