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Animal protection in research

The University of Bayreuth takes the issue of animal protection seriously. Our scientists and staff members handle animals responsibly, as living beings, and are committed to animal protection. They also acquire the proper authorization, which involves either reporting or approval with regulatory control.

Basic research in biomedical sciences plays an integral role at the University of Bayreuth. At this time, animal testing cannot yet be given up completely. All researchers at the University of Bayreuth must behave with respect regarding the task of finding a balance between two ethical duties: the duty to apply one’s own knowledge and abilities to reduce human and animal suffering, and the duty not to impose avoidable suffering on other living beings.

In 2010, the European Parliament issued Directives 2010/63/EU protecting animals used for scientific purposes in order to set high bio-ethical standards for experimental research on animals. In 2013, Germany’s Animal Welfare Act was amended to conform to the European guidelines. It emphasizes three guiding principles ("The Three Rs”) for ensuring animal protection in research:

1. reduction of the number of animals in an experiment,
2. refinement of animal test methods in order to minimize suffering and improve the well-being of the animals, and
3. development of replacement methods for animal testing.

All examinations or procedure carried out on animals which could involve pain, suffering, or distress count as animal testing. They are permitted in research only if there is no other way to arrive at new knowledge. Gaining new knowledge is thus legally required to justify research on animals. The EU guidelines go one step further than this interpretation, stipulating that any process in which animals are used in science requires prior approval. 

The Animal Welfare Act requires that animal testing only be carried out if, for instance, it is indispensable for conducting basic research and it is ethically defensible in consideration of the envisaged findings. Scientific and medical breakthroughs would be unimaginable without the findings that result from basic research. Findings from animal testing serve as an indispensable basis for understanding illnesses and their treatment. In basic research in biomedical sciences, animal testing helps clarify previously unknown basic biological interrelationships and related disorders in humans and animals. 

Even the most modern in-vitro processes of cell or tissue cultures are unsuitable for investigating organisms’ physiological processes in which different tissues or organs interact with one another and regulate complex processes such as behaviour or development. Findings from animal testing thus remain essential in certain fields of basic research.

As a matter of principle, animal testing always requires prior approval by the relevant authority. The request must include a comprehensive scientific rationale for the planned experiment and evidence that the space, technical equipment, and personnel required for successful completion of the project are available. Naturally, this is also the case at the University of Bayreuth. Approved animal testing is conducted by cautious, well-trained scientists and animal keepers who have been sensitized to the issues involved. German law stipulates precisely the required status of training and expertise for one to be permitted to conduct experiments on or with animals.

Our animal tests are precisely documented and monitored by the relevant authorities. At the University of Bayreuth itself, they are internally monitored by the Animal Testing Commissioners, who are generally qualified veterinarians. They review and respond to the animal testing requests. They also advise the researchers and ensure that the Principle of Three Rs is being properly implemented on campus. Animal Testing Commissioners act independently, and they also provide veterinary care for the animals. In their activities, they are supported by an Animal Welfare Board, which includes scientific staff and animal keepers.


Press RelationsPress, Marketing and Communication Department

Phone: 0921 / 55-5324

Zentrale Universitätsverwaltung - ZUV
Universitätsstraße 30, 95440 Bayreuth

„Tierversuche verstehen“ is an initiative of the German scientific community, coordinated by the Alliance of Science Organizations. It provides comprehensive, up-to-date and fact-based information about animal experiments at publicly funded research institutions. "Understanding animal experiments" promotes dialog between science and the public and contributes to an objective discussion about animal experiments.