Animal experimentation

In Switzerland, animal experiments may only be performed if no alternative methods are available. Equally strict rules apply to laboratory animal husbandry as to the training and continuing education of the researchers working with animals.

Animal experimentation

Switzerland possesses one of the most comprehensive legislations on animal welfare in the world. The area of animal research is regulated in a particularly strict manner: Each individual animal experiment applied for is examined by a cantonal committee on animal experimentation. Researchers must demonstrate that the benefits to society are greater than the distress suffered by the animals involved (harm-benefit analysis).

Thanks to the guiding principles of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement), it has been possible to dramatically reduce the number of animal experiments conducted in recent years.

Animal experiments in 2018: fewer laboratory animals used

In 2018, the number of animals used for experiments in Switzerland was 586,643. This is 4.6% less than in 2017. Compared with 2009, the number of animals used has fallen by more than 16.9%.

Animal experiments 2009-2018: in 2018, fewer animals were used in experiments

In 2018, most of the animals (71.1%) were used in experiments that involved little if any stress (severity grades 0 and 1). Around 26.2% of the animals were exposed to a moderate degree of stress (severity grade 2) and 2.7% to severe stress (severity grade 3).

Animal experiments 2009-2018: development of severity according to number of animals

Principle 3R

Animal experiments must only be allowed if no alternative methods are available for answering scientific questions. The number of laboratory animals and the strain that they suffer must be kept to a minimum.

Degree of severity and harm-benefit analysis

The harm-benefit analysis determines whether or not an animal experiment may be authorised and conducted. During the process, the gain in knowledge expected is compared with the anticipated level of distress suffered by the animal.

Application and authorisation

In Switzerland, each individual animal experiment and laboratory animal facility must be approved. The aim of this strict procedure is to protect animals from suffering constraint in a way that cannot be justified.

Reports and announcements

Persons conducting animal experiments must provide regular reports about the number of laboratory animals used along with information about the experiments conducted.

Training and continuing education

Persons conducting animal experiments are required to possess the necessary skills, complete a specific training course and take continuing education courses. Persons caring for laboratory animals are also required to be qualified and take continuing education courses regularly.


The handling of experimental animals is clearly regulated. In addition to the legal requirements, we provide you with specific technical information, explanations and forms on this page. Animal experiments must be managed with the web application "e-tierversuche".

More information

Last modification 11.12.2019

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