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Inside a Laboratory Animal Facility

Although not highly visible, several laboratory animal facilities of varying size are located on the University Park campus. The facilities are kept locked with alarms on the doors and access limited to approved personnel. Why is this?

There are several reasons why animal facilities are not open to the public:

  1. Animals need a quiet, safe and secure environment to thrive. The presence of excessive noise, unfamiliar people and lots of activity can be stressful and cause distress for the animals living in the facility. Limiting access to the facility reduces stress on the animals which leads to less statistical variability, more accurate research results and ultimately, the use of fewer animals.
  2. Reliable and accurate research also requires the use of healthy animals. Limiting the flow of people in and out of the facility and requiring animal handlers to wear gloves, gowns and other protective gear reduces the chance animals will be exposed to infectious agents.
  3. Laboratory animal facilities contain specialized and expensive equipment such as ventilated cage racks, x-ray machines and anesthetic equipment. Damage or theft of this equipment would compromise the ability of PSU staff to maintain the health and welfare of the animals and the accuracy of research taking place in the facility.

After completion of the appropriate training, including all required IACUC and ARP facility orientation training, principle investigators, their research staff and students are allowed to work within the laboratory animal facility. The pages that follow provide a brief overview of how a laboratory animal facility operates.

Note: The format for this tour is modeled after a similar tour developed by Adrian Smith at the Norwegian Reference Centre for Laboratory Animal Science and Alternatives.