ANIMAL rights groups have condemned Edinburgh University bosses after it was revealed that over 200,000 animals were tested upon during 2014.

A freedom of information request revealed a total of 200,861 animals were used for testing over the 12-month period, the second-highest number in the UK behind only the University of Oxford.

Reports showed that in 2013 Edinburgh performed testing on the highest number of animals in the UK. Despite facing heavy criticism, these latest statistics show they have failed to change their approach.

Although the university has claimed the use of animals is justified on scientific, ethical and legal grounds, campaigners have described their use as “archaic”, claiming that such test force animals to endure “painful and stressful suffering”.

According to Edinburgh officials, 97 per cent of all those animals tested upon were either rodents or fish, and were used because no alternative was available. The 200,861 animals used averages out to around 550 animals a day – a minimal reduction on the total figure of 241,845 the university tested on in 2013.

Director of Scottish Animal Welfare charity OneKind, Harry Huyton, said the continued use of such procedures is “completely unacceptable”.

“It is disappointing that Edinburgh University continues to test on animals to such a degree that it is among the worst offending universities in the UK,” Huyton said.

“The procedures carried out on animals in some laboratories are completely unacceptable, forcing sentient creatures to endure painful and stressful suffering. What’s more, there is a growing body of research, including from academics at Edinburgh University itself, which questions the scientific validity of much research based on animal testing.”

He added: “OneKind urges all universities, including Edinburgh, to seek alternatives to experimenting on animals in such an archaic and cruel manner.”

Experiments at the five most prolific universities, which also comprised University College London, King’s College London and the University of Cambridge, are said to have included animals being deprived of food and water, having electrodes implanted in their skulls and being blasted with loud noises while trapped in a box.

Other experiments highlighted included the alleged injection of acid into rats in order to cause brain damage and pregnant sheep being injected with testosterone or having their ovaries punctured.