back to the Council of Europe internet portal
Legal affairs
Legal co-operation
Biological safety and use of animals
Laboratory animals


Resolution on the acquisition and transport of laboratory animals

adopted by the Multilateral Consultation on 30 May 1997

The Parties to the European Convention for the protection of vertebrate animals used for experimental or other scientific purposes, by virtue of its Article 30;

Recognising that the provisions of this Article imply the monitoring of the implementation of the provisions, the adaptation of the Convention to changing circumstances and new scientific evidence and the development of common and coordinated programmes in the field covered by the Convention;

Recognising that the absence of a common interpretation of certain provisions and terms in the Convention which relate to the acquisition and transport of laboratory animals may lead to differences in the implementation of the Convention by individual Parties;

Anxious to improve the implementation of the Convention taking account of developments in knowledge concerning the welfare of laboratory animals;

Recalling that the provisions in Article 21 of the Convention protect the welfare of animals bred for use in procedures by requiring that identified species shall be acquired from or originate from registered breeding establishments, unless a general or special exemption has been obtained;

Recalling that Article 5 of the Convention requires that animals be provided with accommodation and care appropriate to its health and welfare and that paragraph 3.3 of Appendix A to the Convention sets out principles of best practice in packing and transport of laboratory animals;

Considering that changing circumstances and new scientific evidence which has become available since 1986 require agreement upon a common interpretation and application of what now constitutes best practice in the packing and transport of laboratory animals;

Convinced that an agreement on common criteria to be taken into consideration by Parties when deciding whether or not to grant a general or special exemption under Article 21 will facilitate the respect of this Article and harmonise the implementation of the Convention;

Convinced that an agreement on principles complementing and developing those presented in paragraph 3.3 of Appendix A to the Convention will further the aims of the Convention by minimising the [stress] of transport to animals undergoing or intended for use for experimental or other scientific purposes;

Resolved as follows:

Acquisition of laboratory animals

The following criteria shall be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to grant a general or special exemption from Article 21 of the Convention:

. There should be a justifiable need for the animals for experimental or laboratory animal breeding purposes.

. Reasonable efforts should be made to establish that suitable animals are not available from registered breeders and suppliers. Elements relevant to suitability could relate to the following: species and strain, quantity, quality, time aspects.

. Assurances should be sought concerning the adequacy of the care and accommodation at the breeding or supplying establishment.

. None of the above must take precedence over the requirement concerning stray animals provided in Article 21, paragraph 3.

Transport of laboratory animals

The Parties shall:

* ensure that the principles of best practice in the packing and transport of laboratory animals contained in the Appendix to this Resolution are circulated among the persons concerned with the transport of laboratory animals;

* encourage these persons to follow these principles complementing Appendix A.

* encourage the insertion of those principles in any education or training programme intended for persons concerned with the transport of laboratory animals:


. Any transport of laboratory animals should be well planned.

. The primary responsibility for the welfare of animals during transport must be clearly defined from departure to arrival at the point of destination. This is particularly important when unforeseen conditions such as long delays occur.

. The receiver should be properly informed about the transport details and documentary particulars to ensure quick handling and reception in the place of arrival.

. Animals should be fit for transportation and it is the duty of the sender to ensure that they are so. All animals should be inspected to ensure their fitness for transport before being placed in the container.

. Particular attention should be paid to the additional care which may be required by experimentally prepared animals, very young or very old animals, nursing animals or animals with clinical genotypic defects during transport.

. Animals which are unfit should not be subjected to any transport, except transportation for veterinary, diagnostic or scientific reasons, provided that appropriate additional care is given during transport to limit the suffering of the animals.

. Animals in the advanced stages of pregnancy, or animals having given birth during the preceding 48 hours, and new-born mammals in which the navel has not completely healed, should not be considered to be fit for transportation.

. Only compatible animals should be transported together.

. Every precaution should be taken by sender and carrier in packing, loading and transit to avoid unnecessary suffering through inadequate ventilation, exposure to extreme temperatures, lack of feed and water taking particular note of the requirements of different species and strains. Everything possible should be done to avoid long delays, sudden movements, excessive noise or vibration.

. The animal container should provide comfortable, hygienic conditions to minimise stress for the duration of the journey. This should include the provision of sufficient bedding. The container should be clearly labelled and its design and finish should be such as to minimise any risk of damage to the animals during loading, transport, unloading and the removal of animals at their destination. It should be escape-proof, leak-proof and should minimise any risk from the animals to those handling it. Where appropriate, the container should be designed to prevent or restrict the entry of microorganisms. It should allow visual inspection of the animals without compromising the microbiological status of the animals.

. Personnel responsible for the care and welfare of animals being transported must be aware of the needs of the animals in their care. They should have received appropriate training or have equivalent practical experience in the handling and care of the species transported.

. Standards and practices should evolve as necessary to take account of continuing advances in scientific knowledge of the causes and impact of suffering and distress to animals during transport.