Why is animal research necessary?

Modern medical research, including research using animals, is necessary to understanding disease and creating medicines to improve human and animal lives and reduce suffering.  Every medical breakthrough known has a basis in animal research and all of the top 25 most prescribed drugs were developed with the assistance of animal models.  To learn more about the indispensable role of animal research, watch a brief PSA by the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) by clicking here.

Why is it even necessary to move animals?

Biomedical research is conducted in universities and commercial laboratories across the globe.  Important breakthroughs are typically dependent on collaborative efforts from different laboratories in many states and countries.

Successful research depends on a reliable source of healthy laboratory animals.  The best way of achieving this is through a global supply and transportation chain. Animals obtained from the same source have consistent genetics allowing scientists to better interpret data from animal studies.   Professional breeders with highly controlled environments produce disease free animals with special characteristics important in studying human disease.

A shared source of genetically defined and healthy animals dramatically reduces the total number of animals required for a research program.  A striking benefit of collaboration is the refinement of animal use.   By including collaborators with the highest expertise and the best modern methodology to conduct animal studies, better data is produced.

Without the ability to transport laboratory animals from licensed commercial breeders and between research facilities, each research site would have to breed their own animals.  This would be costly and would unnecessarily increase the number of animals for research.

How are animals transported?

Experienced and licensed professional transport companies are used to safely move laboratory animals. Animals are transported in vehicles equipped with temperature and humidity monitors and controls.  Travel routes are designed to take the shortest time reasonable to reduce travel stress.  To keep the journey as brief as possible, animals are frequently transported via airplane.

During transport, animals are provided with food, water, and appropriate temperatures and conditions. Shipping containers are designed for proper ventilation, and to protection animals from escape or injury.  Bedding materials are provided for comfort and are specific to the needs of each species.  Veterinarians specializing in the care of laboratory animals coordinate the shipping process, working with trained staff who monitor animals through the shipping process.

Why do we need to import nonhuman primates?

It is often in the best interests of an animal to be born and raised in areas with a climate well suited to the welfare of their species and where year-round outdoor housing is available.   Nonhuman primates most commonly used in research are native to tropical and subtropical regions, and breeding facilities in those regions can provide captive animals with a suitable environment.  These captive bred animals are reared to young adulthood before being moved to research facilities around the world.

Where do we get research animals?

The preferred source for research animals is a professional breeder. These producers are dedicated to supplying healthy, high quality animals to the research community.  Animals are obtained from licensed, inspected, and accredited facilities that employ experienced handlers, caretakers, and veterinarians.  The research community demands high quality standards for food, water, sanitation, and welfare for research animals, creating conditions often exceed those of typical house pets.

Is it safe for animals?

The regulated transportation of laboratory animals is very safe.  Industry statistics show that there is an error rate less than 1% for either land or air transportation of animals.  Most of these errors do not impact the health or welfare of the shipment, so the actual impact on animal safety is even lower.

What would happen if we couldn’t transport animals in the future? 

Without the ability to transport laboratory animals, research would be restricted to fewer locations, and would lose the contributions of many talented scientists.  Further, scientists would not always be able to use the most appropriate model to study a disease or response to a medication, delaying or stopping much needed medical advances.

The development of new medicines would slow, or even stop, denying cures and treatments to the people who need them.  Research institutions would have to divert precious funding, manpower, and laboratory space to breeding animals, taking resources away from important research.

Scientific collaboration across the world would be hampered by inconsistency in their research animals and difficult to interpret data.  Without the ability to transport laboratory animals by air, the research community would be unable to provide the best possible conditions for shipping animals quickly and safely.  Without air transportation options, animals would often be subject to longer and more stressful transportation by land or sea.