There is increasing emphasis on the whole life of experimental animals, from new guidelines from funders and regulators on animal breeding and supply, to the encouragement of strain archiving and tissue sharing through biobanks, and to the rehoming of animals used in regulated procedures. At the same time, breeding has been a visible target for past anti-vivisectionist activity, with multiple attempts to disrupt and reduce the supply of experimental animals to the UK. This has not straightforwardly improved the life experiences of animals used in UK research, nor reduced numbers, instead often increasing imports of animals and overseas research. Altogether, these changes raise questions about the implications of these increasingly complex networks for efforts to protect animal welfare and for future scientific research.

This project therefore approaches the animal research nexus by exploring the changing networks formed around the origins and fates of laboratory animals through in-depth interviews and ethnographic methods.  We seek to map these evolving networks of animal breeding, supply, and rehoming and understand them within the cultural economies of doing different types of scientific research using animals. We will address questions about value, quality, assurance and welfare within animal supply chain practices.

This project is carried out by the team at the University of Southampton. If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact the Project Lead, Dr Emma Roe, or to direct specific questions about breeding, biobanking and supply to Dr Sara Peres or rehoming to Miss Tess Skidmore.

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This poster discusses the management of animal numbers in our research examining the breeding, supply, and biobanking of lab animals within the economies of biomedical science.