Animal research in Germany

Animal research in Germany

The 2015 figures decreased by 17 percent compared to 2014. The statistics published by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, (BMEL) indicate that 2.753,062 animals were used for research purposes in Germany in 2015. In 2014, this number was 3.313,898. Compared to 2014, the number of animals used decreased by 17 percent. The new statistics include animals used in research procedures as well as for alternative methods, e.g. for obtaining cells for cell cultures

The proportion of animals used in basic research has decreased from 63 percent to 59 percent. The proportion of mice, rats and fish remained constant, accounting for 90 percent for all animals used in research. In mice, the proportion of experiments with genetically modified animals increased from 46 percent in 2014 to 50 percent in 2015. Across all species, the number of procedures with genetically modified animals increased from 984,886 (29 percent) in 2014 to 1.115,828 (40 percent) in 2015.

(Source: Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection)

Statistics at the Max Planck Institutes

Original 1510149634
2016 animal research figures within the Max Planck Society
2016 animal research figures within the Max Planck Society

In 2016, a total of 378.811 animals were used for research purposes at Max Planck Institutes. Rodents accounted for the biggest proportion at 69 percent (mice and rats), followed by fish (29 percent). Other animal groups, such as birds (2 percent), were used to a much lesser extent at the Max Planck Institutes. The Max Planck Society uses significantly more fish in its research activities than the federal average (2015: 7.2 percent), thus meeting a provision of the German Animal Welfare Act according to which the lowest possible vertebrate species should be deployed if it will suffice for the research purpose. The high proportion of fish is also explained by their importance in basic research. The zebra fish, in particular, is an extremely important model organism in molecular and developmental biology and in neuroscience.

Non-human primates account for a negligible proportion of 0.006 percent of all research animals used at the Max Planck Institutes.  

Severity of procedures

In 2016, the majority of procedures carried out were categorized as being mild (69 percent); the proportion of moderate procedures was 10 percent. Only 0.26 percent of procedures were categorized as being severe. The proportion of procedures carried out under general anaesthesia from which the animals did not recover was 22 percent.


Modellorganismus Fruchtfliege
The common kitchen pest Drosophila melanogaster is indispensable as a model organism in the lab.
Modellorganismus Zebrafisch
Thanks to fish, researchers can forego experiments with higher vertebrates.
Modellorganismus Maus
Mice make up the majority of vertebrates in the animal research facilities of the Max Planck Institutes.
In Germany, research involving monkies is only allowed under observation of strict legal regulations.
Go to Editor View