Enrichment for mice - Photo by iStock

Refinement of Housing and Handling

AWI strongly supports the principles of the “3Rs” proposed by Russell and Burch: replacement of animals in research with non-animal alternatives; reduction in the number of animals used in experiments; and refinement of the care and treatment of the animals who continue to be used in research, testing and education. AWI encourages research institutions and laboratory personnel to provide animals with comfortable housing with conspecifics; veterinary treatment including pain relief; and the opportunity to engage in species-typical behaviors—while sparing them needless suffering. To promote and facilitate the implementation of refinements by laboratory personnel, AWI creates and provides many resources for people who work in laboratories.

Meeting the Social Needs of Nonhuman Primates

AWI has been at the forefront of efforts to provide nonhuman primates with social housing and other forms of enrichment designed to addresses their behavioral needs to the greatest extent possible. AWI is a strong proponent of gaining the trust and cooperation of primates for routine procedures rather than using stress-inducing removal from the home cage and forced restraint.

Extending Legal Protections to Rats, Mice, and Birds

AWI’s advocacy was a key factor in passage of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) in 1966, as well as in passage of subsequent amendments to strengthen and broaden it. AWI remains committed to strict enforcement of the AWA and to extending the legal protections afforded by this law to all animals in research, including rats, mice, and birds.

Moulton Chinchilla Ranch

On October 8, 2021, an administrative law judge permanently revoked the dealer license of Dan Moulton, owner of Moulton Chinchilla Ranch (MCR), one of the nation’s primary suppliers of chinchillas for experimentation. For years, AWI has been raising concerns about the abysmal conditions at MCR, which for decades has sold its chinchillas to research facilities around the country, and calling out the US Department of Agriculture for failing to prevent the suffering of animals by enforcing the AWA.

Santa Cruz Biotechnology

Santa Cruz Biotechnology (SCBT) was one of the world’s largest suppliers of research antibodies derived from animals. For more than a decade, SCBT received numerous citations from USDA inspectors over number of egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act with respect to SCBT’s treatment of goats and rabbits. AWI helped get the situation publicized in tens of thousands of media outlets, including the scientific journal Nature. In the end, the USDA filed multiple complaints against SCBT, which culminated in a settlement involving unprecedented penalties levied against the company and cancellation of the facility’s research registration, revocation of its dealer license, and payment of a historic $3.5 million civil penalty. The company was also permanently banned in the United States from selling antibodies derived from species covered under the Animal Welfare Act.