Research is carried out with the highest regard for animal welfare. Photo by Colin Speedie.

Welfare of animals

The University of Exeter is committed to high standards of animal welfare, and we continue to invest in our facilities.

Where research requires animals to be held at the University, we house them in suitable environments, ensuring that they have opportunities to exhibit natural behaviours, looking after their psychological well-being, and keeping them in good physical health.

The University has well-defined work programmes to ensure that these requirements are met, and relevant laws and guidelines are strictly adhered to. Our overriding considerations are that:

  • Research on animals is conducted only when it will contribute to the advancement of knowledge that is likely to lead to improvement of the health and welfare of animals and/or human beings, or provide a better understanding of the animals themselves.
  • The University conducts studies involving animals on the basis of well-defined scientific objectives, giving due consideration to the welfare of the animals, minimising the number of animals employed in each test, and avoiding unnecessary duplication.

All animals obtained by the University for research purposes are subject to inspection and approval by the University Veterinary Surgeon, and all animals that are protected under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 are purpose bred at establishments licensed by the Home Office.

Field studies on farm and wild animals or studies involving non-protected species are conducted within relevant legislative requirements and governance structures are in place to ensure that appropriate standards are met.

Animals are transported, housed and cared for by dedicated and trained staff under professional supervision in a manner designed to ensure the best health and well-being of the animal, with provisions for environmental enrichment.

Members of the veterinary profession are available at all times for consultation, care and attendance.

All animals are checked frequently by animal technicians, who are specialists in the care of animals. They are trained in correct animal handling and to recognise signs of pain, distress and disease.