The number of animal experiments has fluctuated since the Wod was amended in 2014. There was a large increase in the number of fish used in experiments between 2014 and 2015, as fish used to monitor fish stocks in the North Sea did not fall under the Wod prior to 2015.
Annual fluctuations in the number of animal experiments were mainly seen for pigs, chickens and fish and, to a lesser extent, mice. This is due to large, long-term research projects that took place into the health and welfare of pigs and poultry, into more sustainable fish farming, and into the role of mice in the transmission of Lyme and other diseases.
Wageningen graduates may be required to conduct animal experiments as part of their work. WUR therefore believes it has a duty to teach students about responsible animal testing and the ethical aspects associated with the use of test animals.
Any students who are opposed to animal experiments on ethical grounds or who do not wish to use materials taken from animals during practical sessions may choose to follow a dissection-free variant of the compulsory classes. This is not however possible for subjects in the specialisation phase of the programme, although students may choose subjects in which they do not have to carry out animal experiments.
The Wod applies to animals that are used for scientific or educational purposes and that undergo pain or suffering as a result of an experiment. The Act applies to vertebrates, including the independently feeding larval forms of fish and reptiles, the foetal forms of mammals from the last trimester of their development, and cephalopods.
Some animals that are housed at WUR are not covered by the Wod and are therefore not included in this annual report. This may be because they are kept for breeding, or as commercial animals, or because they are not exposed to pain or suffering during the experiment, for example because they are only kept for observation.
The ‘rehoming’ of test animals is permitted under certain conditions. WUR follows the Code of Practice drawn up by the Netherlands National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes for the rehoming of test animals.
Cats that are kept at WUR are ‘retired’ after seven years and put up for adoption. Using a detailed questionnaire, the right cat is coupled to the right owner. The cats that are housed at WUR are mainly used for behaviour and food research. They receive a lot of attention from students and carers and are therefore well-socialised and suitable for adoption. In 2020 twenty two cats were found new homes.