Figures reveal that the University of Edinburgh tested 241,865 animals in just one year

Campaigners say that animals subjected to "distressing and distubring" practices

The University of Edinburgh has conducted more scientific testing on animals than any other UK institution, new figures show.

It has been revealed that the university used a staggering 241,865 creatures to experiment on in just one year of testing.

Figures obtained by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) also show that over half of the animal experiments done by universities in 2013 were carried out by just six insitutions.

The universities - Edinburgh, Oxford, University College London, Cambridge, King's College London and Imperial College London - accounted for over one million (55 per cent) of the total animals used.

The animals used included monkeys, rabbits, sheep, guinea pigs, fish, birds, frogs, rats and mice.

It has been claimed that some of the animals tested on were subject to "distressing and disturbing" practices.

BUAV say that the experiements carried out include one month old rats being subjected to repeated electric shocks at the University of Edinburgh and marmoset monkeys being blasted with loud noise and frightened with rubber snakes at Cambridge University.

Head of science at BUAV Dr Katy Taylor said: "Shockingly, universities account for half of the total number of animals used in experiments carried out in the UK and are responsible for some particularly distressing and disturbing experiments.

"Yet, despite growing concern regarding animal research, much of it is publicly funded. It is ironic that many universities are also leaders in the research to find alternatives to using animals.

"So while one department may be developing cutting edge alternatives, another may be breeding animals to be used in experiments."

The Universities claimed that they follow strict animal welfare guidelines and that there is strict regulation in place.

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: "The University of Edinburgh uses animals in research programmes only when their use is justified on scientific, ethical and legal grounds, and when no alternatives are available.

"All such work is strictly regulated and carried out under licences, which are reviewed and approved by the Home Office and are issued only if the potential benefits of the work are likely to outweigh the effects on the animals concerned."

Stirling University and Dundee University appeared at number six and number nine on the list of institutions at which most animals died.

Picture by Understanding Animal Resarch