Animal research in Germany

Animal research in Germany

The statistics published by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, (BMEL) indicate that 2.807.297 animals were used for research purposes in Germany in 2017. The new statistics include animals used in research procedures as well as for alternative methods, e.g. for obtaining cells for cell cultures

37 percent of the animals were used in basic research. The proportion of rodentns, mostly mice and rats, accounts for about 80 percent for all animals used in research. 11 percent were fish, 3 percent were rabbits, and 0.12 percent primates. Across all species, the number of procedures with genetically modified animals accounts for 40 percent.


Statistics at the Max Planck Institutes

In 2017, a total of 356,242 animals were used for research purposes at Max Planck Institutes. Rodents accounted for the biggest proportion at 80 percent (mice and rats), followed by fish (19 percent). Other animal groups, such as birds (1 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 (2017: 11 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 0.004 percent of all research animals used at the Max Planck Institutes.  

Severity of procedures

In 2017, the majority of procedures carried out were categorized as being mild (63 percent); the proportion of moderate procedures was 11 percent. Only 0.3 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 26 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.

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