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Joanne Zurlo1 and Eric Hutchinson2
1 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, Baltimore, MD, USA;
2 Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, Baltimore, MD, USA


The ultimate goal of the Three Rs is the full replacement of animals used in biomedical research and testing. However, replacement is unlikely to occur in the near future; therefore the scientific community as a whole must continue to devote considerable effort to ensure optimal animal welfare for the benefit of the science and the animals, i.e., the R of refinement. Laws governing the care and use of laboratory animals have recently been revised in Europe and the US and these place greater emphasis on promoting the well-being of the animals in addition to minimizing pain and distress. Social housing for social species is now the default condition, which can present a challenge in certain experimental settings and for certain species. The practice of positive reinforcement training of laboratory animals, particularly non-human primates, is gathering momentum but is not yet universally employed. Enhanced consideration of refinement extends to rodents, particularly mice, whose use is still increasing as more genetically modified models are generated. The wastage of extraneous mice and the method of their euthanasia are refinement issues that still need to be addressed. An international, concerted effort into defining the needs of laboratory animals is still necessary to improve the quality of the animal models used as well as their welfare.


Keywords: refinement, social housing, positive reinforcement training, animal euthanasia



ALTEX 31(1), 4–10

DOI: 10.14573/altex.1312191

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