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Animals Used in Science

Understanding Animal Use

What Types of Animals Are Studied in Canadian Science?

Consult annual data

In Canada, a broad range of animals are used each year for scientific purposes. While some types of animals are used more frequently, others are less so. For the latest annual animal data, we invite you to consult our detailed reports and our sortable Excel files, which provide a comprehensive breakdown of animal types.

Procurement of Animals

Animals used in science can come from various sources. In Canada, many animals are bred specifically for use in a scientific activity by either a commercial supplier or within an institution. Those not bred specifically for science can also sometimes be used for scientific purposes, including wildlife, farm animals, animals in zoos or aquariums, and companion animals volunteered by their owners or obtained from shelters.

An illustration of a cow, sheep, chicken, and bird

Purpose-bred animals are bred specifically for science by either a supplier or within an institution. Most animals in Canadian science are purpose bred, as mice, fish, and rats (which together account for almost 80% of animals in CCAC-certified institutions) are typically bred specifically for scientific work.

The CCAC recognizes that the use of cats and dogs are of special concern to many Canadians. Therefore, an additional distinction is made for these animals within the animal data report: purpose-bred vs. random-source. As noted above, purpose-bred animals are bred specifically for their use in science, whereas random-source cats and dogs are those that have been volunteered by owners or obtained from shelters. Random-source animals are most frequently used for educational purposes to teach veterinary medicine and animal health technology students, where the animals are generally returned to their owners or to shelters for adoption.

As specified in the CCAC guidelines on: procurement of animals used in science, CCAC-certified institutions must follow a list of strict steps when entering into agreements with shelters.