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Implementing the 3Rs

  • Replacement: methods which avoid or replace animal use - our principal goal
  • Reduction: ensuring that the minimum number of animals is used to answer the scientific question, using effective experimental design and statistical analysis to optimise numbers and avoid wasting animals
  • Refinement: reducing suffering and improving welfare throughout animals' lives, including procedures, housing, husbandry and care


We strongly promote fuller implementation of all 3Rs, and we recognise the work done by other bodies to develop and validate humane alternatives, and to address the current crisis with reproducibility and translatability in the life sciences.


Many of the RSPCA's long-term initiatives address refinement, as this 'R' is a key area of expertise for us and our work in this field can benefit millions of animals immediately. 


Our current refinement work falls into three main areas:


We believe that the lives and experiences of laboratory animals matter, and we value all animals used in research and testing equally.


The RSPCA believes it is essential that students whose future careers may involve animal use fully understand the ethical, welfare and scientific issues involved.  We are currently working with UK doctoral schools to prioritise animal welfare, ethics and the 3Rs within the syllabus in further and higher education.


Download the 'R of replacement' educational resource (PDF 2.95MB).


See our work on biotechnology and genetically altered animals.