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The Three Rs

Animal Welfare Principles for research, testing and teaching

The Three Rs — replacement, reduction and refinement — were first introduced by the authors Russell and Burch in their 1959 book, The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique (available through the Johns Hopkins Alt Web website). Since then these ideas have become fundamental principles in the area of animal welfare for research, testing and teaching.


Where possible an alternative to using animals must be used. This could include a computer model or cell culture (where animal or human cells are grown in a laboratory). We aim to help researchers, teachers and ethics committees know about and understand the alternatives to animal use. We promote recent developments in this area through our newsletters and conferences.


The minimum number of animals must be used to gain good experimental results. This means that experiments must be well designed and that as many experimental variables as possible are controlled (i.e., that you only change one thing in your experimental group as compared to your control group). This means that the research or test will provide quality data which can withstand statistical analysis. ANZCCART promotes the principle of Reduction through the development of training programmes for people using animals, by promoting sharing of study design across Animal Ethics Committees and through information provided in our newsletters and conferences.


The animals should not suffer. At all times the health and wellbeing of animals should be a priority. As much as possible the animal should be able to live normally, free from any pain and suffering, throughout the research, teaching or testing process. ANZCCART works alongside the government, research institutions and Animal Ethics Committees to promote Refinement. We present regular updates on topics such as anaesthesia in research animals through our publications and conferences. We work alongside schools and other teaching institutions to promote awareness of animal research and encourage the use of good animal husbandry practices in all instances where animals are used for research or teaching.

Booklets outlining examples of the application of these principles can be found here.

Resource links

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