New Housing Conditions: Improving the Welfare of Experimental Animals
Jan L. Ottesen, Anett Weber, Hanne Gürtler and Lars Friis Mikkelsen
As animal experiments and testing are still a necessary part of the discovery and development of new drugs and do not seem likely to be totally replaced in the foreseeable future, it is important that the care and use of these animals are continuously refined. Since the housing facilities are where most experimental animals spend the major part of their lives, this area should be given special attention to ensure optimal welfare for the animals. In a unique collaboration between a pharmaceutical company and an animal welfare organisation, the housing conditions of mice, rats, guinea-pigs, rabbits and dogs, respectively, were reviewed with focus on the basic needs of the animals. Prototypes for new housing systems satisfying the most important of these basic needs of the animals were developed, with valuable input from international experts with special knowledge of the behaviour of experimental animals. These new housing systems and species-specific, newly introduced socialisation programmes contribute to improved animal welfare and a better occupational health of the animal caretakers. Since these new housing systems are more pleasant and appealing, they may also have the added benefit that they contribute to a broader public acceptance of the use of experimental animals.