Topics > Plants & animals

Using animals in research and teaching

Animals are used by South Australian schools, universities and research organisations for purposes which vary considerably. The impact on these animals also varies, but in all cases an animal must be treated in a humane and considerate way.

The Animal Welfare Act 1985 mandates the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (the Code). The Code requires that research and teaching programs using animals can only be performed when an animal is essential for:

  • obtaining significant information to better our understanding of humans and/or animals
  • maintaining and improving human and/or animal health and welfare
  • improving animal management or production
  • obtaining significant information about how we can maintain or improve our natural environment or
  • achieving educational objectives.

These requirements apply to all animals used for the above purposes. Any person who intends to use animals in research or teaching must hold a licence issued by the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water (or be acting on the authority of a licence holder). Each licence specifies an Animal Ethics Committee that must approve the proposed work before it commences.

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The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 requires additional approvals for research or teaching involving protected wildlife.

The department strives to ensure that researchers who study protected native plant and animal species, or the state's protected areas are conducting their work in a manner that is:

  • ethical
  • environmentally sensitive
  • culturally sensitive
  • sustainable.