Timeline of animal testing

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This is a timeline of animal testing, attempting to describe the use of non-human animals for scientific research and emergence of policies regulating testing. Most Nobel Prizes in Medicine have involved some form of animal research.[1]

Big picture

Time period Development summary
Ancient history Animals testing is early documented in the history of biomedical research. Aristotle and Erasistratus already perform experiments on living animals. Greek physician Galen also conducts experiments on animals to advance the understanding of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology. Arab physician Ibn Zuhr introduces animal testing as an experimental method for testing surgical procedures before applying them to human patients.[2]
17th century Debates on the ethics of animal testing are already conducted in the seventeenth century.[2] Throughout the Age of Enlightenment, physiological experiments on animals are carried out for the purpose of scientific progress. However, the moral acceptability of inducing suffering in animals in the name of scientific advancement also becomes an issue raised in opposition of vivisection before the end of the century.[3]
18th century The century marks the rise of moral consideration for animals. Scientists like Stephen Hales and Albrecht Von Haller are known to be concerned about the moral justification of experimenting on animals.[3]
19th century By the beginning of the century, the topic of discussion is not if animals can feel or not and to what extent, but rather, whether vivisection is justifiable based on the benefit for humans derived from it. While the second half of the nineteenth century marks the beginning of scientifically meaningful and medically relevant animal research, this period also sees opposition to vivisection becoming widespread in England.[3]
20th century Before 1900, animal models were mainly used to study the pathophysiology of infections.[4] Drug testing using animals becomes important in the twentieth century.[2] The 1950s marks the beginning of a new concern for animals on the part of scientists and the public.[5]
21st century Recently, the practice of using animals for biomedical research has come under severe criticism by animal protection and animal rights groups, with several countries passing laws to make the practice more ‘humane’.[2] However it has been estimated that 100 million vertebrates are experimented on around the world every year,[6] with 10–11 million of them in the European Union.[7]

Numerical and visual data

Mentions on Google Scholar

The following table summarizes per-year mentions on Google Scholar as of May 18, 2021.

Year animal testing animal experimentation in vivo testing animal testing ethics animal experimentation ethics
1980 16,900 4,100 6,660 557 349
1985 21,000 4,500 9,760 748 522
1990 37,800 6,220 13,800 1,330 839
1995 72,400 8,820 24,900 3,200 1,340
2000 156,000 12,600 57,500 7,080 2,680
2002 184,000 15,100 70,000 8,580 3,310
2004 221,000 17,300 86,100 11,700 3,930
2006 246,000 21,500 103,000 12,800 4,740
2008 290,000 26,700 122,000 18,100 5,710
2010 303,000 33,300 136,000 26,900 7,310
2012 330,000 45,500 153,000 55,200 10,300
2014 289,000 48,800 151,000 76,300 12,700
2016 222,000 49,800 125,000 78,300 15,700
2017 186,000 43,700 106,000 76,000 17,300
2018 145,000 43,700 83,400 66,900 19,000
2019 102,000 39,000 70,600 56,700 20,300
2020 71,300 32,200 57,000 42,300 22,400
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Google trends

The chart below shows Google Trends data for Animal testing (topic), from January 2004 to January 2021, when the screenshot was taken.[8]

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Google Ngram Viewer

The chart below shows Google Ngram Viewer data for animal testing, from 1700 to 2019.[9]

Animal testingngram.jpeg

Wikipedia views

The chart below shows pageviews of the English Wikipedia article animal testing on desktop from December 2007, and on mobile-web, desktop-spider, mobile-web-spider and mobile app, from June 2015; to December 2020.[10]

Animal testing wv.jpeg

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Location
300 Scientific development Writings of ancient civilizations all document the use of animal testing. These civilizations, led by men like Aristotle and Erasistratus, use live animals to test various medical procedures.[11]
1242 Scientific development Using animals to study blood circulation, Syrian Arab physician Ibn al-Nafis manages to theorize about the human blood circulatory system. His theories are eventually proven hundreds of years later by William Harvey.[11]
1596–1650 Scientific development French philosopher René Descartes performs vivisections on animals under his belief that animals are ‘machine-like’, interpreted as a belief that animals can not feel pain.[3] France
1660 Animal testing (basic biology) Anglo-Irish scientist Robert Boyle theorizes that living beings need air to live – something unknown at the time. Using animals, Boyle tests and proves his theories.[11] United Kingdom
1700s Animal testing (basic biology) Scientists like Stephen Hales and Luigi Galvani use animals to prove their scientific theories. Some of the theories proved during the 1700s include animation caused by electricity, respiration as combustion, and blood pressure theories.[11]
1724–1804 Ethical Development German philosopher Immanuel Kant acknowledges the sentience of non-human species.[3]
1783 Animal testing (travel) A sheep, duck and rooster are sent up in the newly invented hot-air balloon. The balloon flies for 3.2 kilometers and lands safely.[12]
1783–1855 Animal testing (basic biology) French physiologist François Magendie lives. Magendie is considered among the most infamous of his time for the types of experiments he conducts and the cruelty they entail. A notorious vivisector, Magendie would shock even many of his contemporaries with the live dissections performed by him at public lectures in physiology.[3] France
1840s Animal testing Animal experimentation becomes routine after the discovery of anesthetic allows for experiments on animals to continue with less guilt due to less pain inducement.[3]
1866 Organization Philantropist Henry Bergh founds the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which would press unsuccessfully for laws to abolish experiments involving animals in the 1860s and 1870s.[13] United States
1875 Organization The Victoria Street Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection is founded. It is the first society for animal protection.
1876 Legal Great Britain passes the Cruelty to Animals Act.[11] However, the Act's implementation permits "a great amount of pain and suffering to animals", and the adequacy of anaesthetics is questionable.[14] United Kingdom
1880 Animal testing (medical cures) French biologist Louis Pasteur uses sheep and anthrax to prove the theory that germs are harmful and what causes illness. He eventually develops the practice of pasteurization, which consists in boiling the milk to kill bacteria and germs.[11] France
1883 Organization American philanthropist Caroline Earle White establishes the American Anti-Vivisection Society.[13] United States
1890s Animal testing (basic biology) Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov uses dogs to describe classical conditioning.[15] Russia
1901 Animal testing (medical cures) German physiologist Emil von Behring uses guinea pigs to test his theories on diphtheria, and later uses the findings to create an immunization for humans. Von Behring would be awarded the Nobel Prize for his advancement of medicine.[11] Germany
1920 Animal testing (basic biology) English electrophysiologist Edgar Adrian experiments on a frog to prove the way the brain sends signals for communication. Adrian is later awarded the Nobel Prize for his findings.[11]
1921 Animal testing (medical cures) Canadian scientist Frederick Banting uses dogs, and later cows, to experiment with the pancreas and insulin to develop a treatment for diabetes.[11]
1938 Policy The United States Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires safety testing of drugs on animals before they can be marketed.[2][16] United States
1940s Animal testing (medical cures) By experimenting on guinea pigs, Corwin Hinshaw finds that antibodies found in the soil could help cure tuberculosis.[11]
1940s Animal testing (medical cures) American medical researcher Jonas Salk uses monkeys to isolate and vaccinate against the polio virus.[11]
1949 Animal testing (travel) Albert II becomes the first monkey in space on June 4, 1949. He reaches an altitude of 83 miles (134 km), but dies on impact when the parachute fails.[12]
1949 Alternative testing The first computer operated mannequin is built by Alderson Research Labs (ARL) Sierra Engineering. These devices would replace live animal trauma testing for automobile crash testing. Prior to this, live pigs were used as test subjects for crash testing.[17][18] United States
1950s Animal testing (medical cures) Scientists use rodents, dogs, cats, monkeys, and rabbits to test the use of anesthesia.[11] In the 1950s, the Soviet Union launches a total of 12 dogs on various suborbital flights. Stray dogs are used since they are thought to be capable of handling extreme cold.[12]
1951 Organization The Animal Welfare Institute is founded.[5]
1957 (November 3) Animal testing (travel) Laika becomes the first animal sent into orbit.[19] Russia
1959 Ethical Development William Russell and Rex Burch publish The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique.[5]
1959 Alternative testing The Three Rs (3Rs) are first described by W. M. S. Russell and R. L. Burch as guiding principles for more ethical use of animals in testing.[20] The 3Rs are:
  1. Replacement:methods which avoid or replace the use of animals in research
  2. Reduction: use of methods that enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals, or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.
  3. Refinement: use of methods that alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress, and enhance animal welfare for the animals used.
1960 Animal testing (medical cures) American cardiovascular surgeon Albert Starr pioneers heart valve replacement surgery in humans after a series of surgical advances in dogs.[21] United States
1963 Animal testing (travel) France launches the first cat into space. Félicette reaches an altitude of 160 km and lands safely.[12] France
1963 Animal testing (basic biology) South African biologist Sydney Brenner proposes research into nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, primarily in the area of neuronal development.[22]
1964–1966 Animal testing (travel) China launches mice, rats and dogs into space.[12] China
1966 Policy The United States Congress passes the Animal Welfare Act, a federal law regulating animal use in the United States.[5] United States
1968 Animal testing (medical cures) Medics and scientists use dogs to attempt the replacing of a heart valve. Other studies using animals today include the studying of AIDS and leprosy.[11]
1968 Animal testing (travel) First animals are sent in deep space and to circle the Moon. The Soviet Zond 5 becomes the first spacecraft to circle the satellite, carrying a payload of two Russian tortoises, wine flies, mealworms, plants, seeds and bacteria.[12]
1969 Alternative testing The Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments is formed with the purpose to relieve the suffering of animals used as subjects in biomedical research, and to promote and support research into acceptable new techniques as substitutes for the use of animals in all such research.[23] United Kingdom
1970s Animal testing (medical cures) Australian psychiatrist John Cade uses lithium salts in guinea pigs in his investigation to find a treatment for depression and other manic conditions.[11]
1974 Animal testing (basic biology) German biologist Rudolf Jaenisch manages to produce the first transgenic mammal, by integrating DNA from the SV40 virus into the genome of mice.[24]
1975 Ethical Development Australian philosopher Peter Singer publishes Animal Liberation, arguing that the interests of animals should be considered because of their ability to feel suffering and that the idea of rights was not necessary to weigh against the relative worth of animal experimentation.
1980 (approximate) Activism The movement against animal testing in North America begins.[3] North America
1981 Alternative testing The John's Hopkins' Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing is founded. It is the leading alternatives center in the United States.[25] United States
1986 Statistics The United States Congress Office of Technology Assessment reports that estimates of the animals used in the United States range from 10 million to upwards of 100 million each year, and that their own best estimate is at least 17 million to 22 million.[26] United States
1986 Policy The Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes (ETS123) is established by the European Union[27], with the purpose to reduce the number of animals used in research and encouraging signing parties to use animals only where alternatives do not exist. The document establishes general principles for when and how experiments with animals are to be carried out and also provides technical details on how to house animals.[28] European Union
1986 Policy The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It regulates the use of protected animals in any experimental or other scientific procedure which may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm to the animal.[29] United Kingdom
1989 Alternative testing The ZEBET (Zentrealstelle ErfassungBewertung von zur Ersatz und zum Erganzungsmethoden Tierversuch - National Center for the Documentation and Evaluation of Alternatives for Methods of Animal Experimentation) is created in Germany.[30] Germany
1991 Organization The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods is established to develop alternatives to animal testing.[31]
1991 Animal testing (transportation) The New York Times publishes an article titled 19,000 Animals Killed in Automotive Crash Tests which reports that about 19,000 dogs, rabbits, pigs, ferrets, rats and mice have been killed during the last decade in automobile safety tests performed by General Motors. The testing would be condemned by leading animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, calling for a boycott of General Motors products.[17] United States
1992 Statistics Researchers at Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy estimate that 14–21 million animals were used in U.S. laboratories in 1992, a reduction from a high of 50 million used in 1970.[32] United States
1993 Alternative testing General Motors discontinues their live testing. Other manufacturers follow suit shortly thereafter.[17]
1994 Alternative testing The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) is established. It facilitates international collaboration on the development of alternative test methods.[33] United States
1996 Animal testing (basic biology) Dolly the sheep becomes the first cloned animal, coming from an adult sheep cell. Science continues using animals for research, in spite of protests.[3][11] United Kingdom
1996 Activism The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics is formed by animal protection groups. It manages the Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certification program in the United States and Canada.[31] North America
1997 Animal testing (medical cures) Innovations in frogs, Xenopus laevis by developmental biologist Jonathan Slack of the University of Bath, create headless tadpoles, which could allow future applications in donor organ transplantation.[34] United Kingdom
1997 Alternative testing The ICCVAM (Interagency Coordinating Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods) is formed by government agencies in the United States. It consists of 15 research and regulatory agencies, among which number the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).[30] United States
1998 Policy Animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients is banned in the United Kingdom.[31] United Kingdom
2000 Policy The Interagency Coordination Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) Authorization Act is signed in the United States. The law establishes a coordinated effort by U.S. agencies to evaluate and adopt alternative test methods.[31] United States
2001 Statistics The number of mice and rats used in the United States alone in 2001 is estimated at 80 million.[35] United States
2001 Statistics China exports over 12,000 macaques for research in 2001 (4,500 to the United States), all from self-sustaining purpose-bred colonies.[36] The second largest source is Mauritius, from which 3,440 purpose-bred cynomolgous macaques were exported to the United States in 2001.[37] China, Mauritius
2004 Policy A law phasing out the production and sale of animal tested cosmetics is passed by the European Union.[31] European Union
2004 Alternative testing The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) approves non-animal alternative tests for dermal absorption, dermal corrosivity, and dermal phototoxicity.[31]
2004 Alternative testing The British National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) is established.[38] United Kingdom
2005 Alternative testing The European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing is created.[39]
2005 Alternative testing The Japanese Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (JaCVAM) is established.[31] Japan
2007 Statistics As of date, the United States and Gabon are the only countries that still use chimpanzees for research purposes.[40][41] United States, Gabon
2007 Alternative testing FRANCOPA is created in France as a platform dedicated to development, validation, and dissemination of alternative methods in animal testing.[42] France
2007 Alternative testing Norecopa is founded in Norway as a consensus platform for the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal experiments.[43] Norway
2008 Animal testing (explosives) The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses live pigs to study the effects of improvised explosive device explosions on internal organs, especially the brain.[44] United States
2008 Alternative testing The Finish Center for Alternative Methods (FICAM) is established.[45] Finland
2009 Alternative testing The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development approves non-animal alternative tests for ocular toxicity.[31]
2010 Alternative testing The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development approves a non-animal alternative test for dermal irritation.[31]
2010 Policy A law phasing out the sale of animal tested cosmetics is passed in Israel.[31] Israel
2010 Policy The EU Directive 2010/63/EU is adopted by the European Union with the purpose of setting more stringent ethical and welfare standards. This legal framework includes the requirement for methods allowing for the replacement of the use of animals when possible, the reduction of the number of animals used, and the refinement of experimental methods involving animals. The Directive itself is based on the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes (ETS123) established in 1986.[27] European Union
2011 Statistics The United States has the largest colony in the world of more than 1,000 chimpanzees at six laboratories.[46]
2011 Alternative testing The Brazilian Center for the Validation of Alternatives Methods is established.[30] Brazil
2011 (December 15) The United States National Academy of Medicine committee concludes in their Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity report that “while the chimpanzee has been a valuable animal model in past research, most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary".[47] United States
2013 Policy Ban on the sale of all cosmetics that have been newly tested on animals is implemented in Israel.[31] Israel
2013 Policy Ban on cosmetic animal testing and the sale of newly animal tested cosmetics is implemented in Norway.[31] Norway
2013 Policy A revised legislation of the British Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 comes into force. repealing the EU Directive 86/609/EEC, and replacing it for the EU Directive 2010/63/EU.[48][49] United Kingdom
2014 Policy The Humane Cosmetics Act (HCA) legislation is introduced in the United States, to prohibit cosmetic animal testing and the sale of newly animal tested cosmetics.[31] United States
2014 Policy India bans cosmetic animal testing.[31] India
2014 Policy A rule to remove mandatory animal testing for non-special use cosmetics manufactured within China is implemented by the government.[31] China
2015 (December) Policy Canada reintroduces the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act.[31] Canada
2015 Alternative testing The Romanian Center for Alternative Test Methods (ROCAM) is established to promote the application of alternative methods in industry and their acceptance by regulators in Romania and also the development of new methods and approaches.[50] Romania
2015 Statistics An article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics argues that the use of animals in the United States dramatically increased in recent years. Researchers find this increase is largely the result of an increased reliance on genetically modified mice in animal studies.[51] United States
2016 (June) Policy Ban of production and sale of animal-tested cosmetics is announced in Australia.[31] Australia
2016 (October) Policy Cosmetic animal testing for finished products and ingredients is banned in Taiwan.[31] Taiwan
2016 (December) Policy An ordinance to ban the sale of newly animal tested cosmetics is passed in Switzerland.[31] Switzerland
2016 Statistics The United States Department of Agriculture lists testing animals that include 60,979 dogs, 18,898 cats, 71,188 non-human primates, 183,237 guinea pigs, 102,633 hamsters, 139,391 rabbits, 83,059 farm animals, and 161,467 other mammals, a total of 820,812, a figure that includes all mammals except purpose-bred mice and rats.[52] United States
2016 Statistics A total of 18,898 cats – which are most commonly used in neurological research – were used in the United States in the year,[52] around a third of which were used in experiments which have the potential to cause "pain and/or distress".[53] United States
2017 (February) Policy Guatemala becomes first country in the Americas to ban cosmetic animal testing.[31] Guatemala
2017 (June) Policy The Humane Cosmetics Act is reintroduced in the United States.[31] United States
2017 (October) Alternative testing New alternative test methods for ocular toxicity and skin allergy are approved by OECD.[31]
2017 (December) Policy Legislation banning sale of animal-tested cosmetics is introduced in South Africa.[31] South Africa

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See also

External links


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