Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes

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National Health and Medical Research Council, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and Australian Agricultural Council

revised 1989, 1997


The first Australian code was issued in 1969 and revised in 1979, 1982, 1985, and 1989. The current code encompasses all aspects of the care and use of animals for scientific purposes in medicine, biology, agriculture, veterinary and other animal sciences, industry, and teaching. Section 1 of the code, "General Principles for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes," which is printed below, is similar to the CIOMS principles, but is unique in its inclusion of the principle that animals must not be taken from their natural habitats if others, bred in captivity, are available. In addition to general principles for the care and use of animals, the code specifies the responsibilities of researchers and institutions and the composition and function of Animal Experimentation Ethics Committees. It also provides guidelines for the acquisition and care of animals. It was most recently revised in 1997.


For the guidance of Investigators, Institutions and Animal Experimentation Ethics Committees and all involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.

Experiments on animals may be performed only when they are essential to obtain and establish significant information relevant to the understanding of humans or animals, to the maintenance and improvement of human or animal health and welfare, to the improvement of animal management or production, or to the achievement of educational objectives.
People who use animals for scientific purposes have an obligation to treat the animals with respect and to consider their welfare as an essential factor when planning and conducting experiments.
Investigators have direct and ultimate responsibility for all matters relating to the welfare of the animals they use in experiments.
Techniques which replace or complement animal experiments must be used wherever possible.
Experiments using animals may be performed only after a decision has been made that they are justified, weighing the scientific or educational value of the experiment against the potential effects on the welfare of the animals.
Animals chosen must be of an appropriate species with suitable biological characteristics, including behavioural characteristics, genetic constitution and nutritional, microbiological and general health status.
Animals must not be taken from their natural habitats if animals bred in captivity are available and suitable.
Experiments must be scientifically valid, and must use no more than the minimum number of animals needed.
Experiments must use the best available scientific techniques and must be carried out only by persons competent in the procedures they perform.
Experiments must not be repeated unnecessarily.
Experiments must be as brief as possible.
Experiments must be designed to avoid pain or distress to animals. If this is not possible, pain or distress must be minimised.
Pain and distress cannot be evaluated easily in animals and therefore investigators must assume that animals experience pain in a manner similar to humans. Decisions regarding the animals' welfare must be based on this assumption unless there is evidence to the contrary.
Experiments which may cause pain or distress of a kind and degree for which anaesthesia would normally be used in medical or veterinary practice must be carried out using anaesthesia appropriate to the species and the procedure. When it is not possible to use anaesthesia, such as in certain toxicological or animal production experiments or in animal models of disease, the end-point of the experiments must be as early as possible to avoid or minimise pain or distress to the animals.
Investigators must avoid using death as an experimental end-point whenever possible.
Analgesic and tranquilliser usage must be appropriate for the species and should at least parallel usage in medical or veterinary practice.
An animal which develops signs of pain or distress of a kind and degree not predicted in the proposal, must have the pain or distress alleviated promptly. If severe pain cannot be alleviated without delay, the animal must be killed humanely forthwith. Alleviation of such pain or distress must take precedence over finishing an experiment.
Neuromuscular blocking agents must not be used without appropriate general anaesthesia, except in animals where sensory awareness has been eliminated. If such agents are used, continuous or frequent intermittent monitoring of paralysed animals is essential to ensure that the depth of anaesthesia is adequate to prevent pain or distress.
Animals must be transported, housed, fed, watered, handled and used under conditions which are appropriate to the species and which ensure a high standard of care.
Institutions using animals for scientific purposes must establish Animal Experimentation Ethics Committees (AEECs) to ensure that all animal use conforms with the standards of this Code.
Investigators must submit written proposals for all animal experimentation to an AEEC which must take into account the expected value of the knowledge to be gained, the validity of the experiments, and all ethical and animal welfare aspects.
Experiments must not commence until written approval has been obtained from the AEEC.
The care and use of animals for all scientific purposes in Australia must be in accord with this Code of Practice, and with Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation.

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Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes

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Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes