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Auckland Rat Lovers Unite!

Today (24/04/24), on World Day for Animals in Labs, NZAVS is launching a new program to rehome rats bred or used for science with the University of Auckland.

This unique rat rehoming program will help fill a massive need in NZ for the animal science and research community and the animals they use.

(Photo supplied)

The motivation for NZAVS (Aotearoa’s only charity 100% dedicated to ending animal experimentation) and the University of Auckland working together might seem strange to some; a research institute working with a charity whose mission is to ultimately replace the use of animals in experimentation, but Dr Jodi Salinsky, Animal Welfare Officer at the University of Auckland explains:

"The scientific community are aligned in New Zealand when it comes to using animals for research, testing and teaching: no one wants to use animals for these purposes. Scientists would not choose to use animals in research if they believed that there were alternative ways that were widely accepted, accessible, and validated by the scientific community."

"NZAVS works hard to collaborate with institutions across Aotearoa engaged in any aspect of animal use for scientific purposes. Members of the scientific community in NZ are starting to recognise that with more openness and working together with progressive organisations like NZAVS, there can be faster and more positive outcomes, including the chance to replace the use of animals in science wherever possible."

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NZAVS helped galvanise members of the animal science and research community to lobby the last government and will now lobby the National-led coalition government to catch up with other countries by (1) allocating funding for the use and development of animal-free research, testing and teaching methods, and (2) allocating funding to rehome animals used and bred for science.

Until the National-led government allocates this critical funding, this life-saving rat rehoming program will be fueled by donations from NZAVS supporters and the compassionate Aucklanders who will selflessly provide the ‘forever homes’ these rats desperately need.

Miss Tara Jackson, Executive Director for NZAVS, says:

"To give an animal, used or bred for science in NZ, a real chance to live a good life in a 'forever home' is an incredible act of kindness. We are delighted that the University of Auckland is showing real leadership in the science community by working with us to ensure that as many animals as possible are rehomed in Auckland."

"Until a New Zealand government commits to what NZAVS and the scientific community wants, we have animals a-plenty to rehome and be given a chance to be loved and live in permanent homes."

"If more Aucklanders can find it in their hearts to open their home to rats (as rats should never be alone) who have started off in science, then they will not only instantly bolster the IQ rating of their household, thanks to how smart rats are, but will be amazed at how loving, easily trained, and playful these animals really are!"

Today, NZAVS is looking for 50 rat forever homes and more than 50 rat lifesavers to go on a rat-saving ‘waitlist’. Please sign up here. NZAVS has also helped to rehome rabbits, sheep, zebra finches, and pigeons bred or used for science with the University of Auckland.

Having willing homes lined up is always hugely welcomed by the charity and the University of Auckland. Donations from anyone who cherishes both animals and science are appreciated, as this enables the work of NZAVS to increasingly collaborate with the scientific community to help advance solutions to the issue of animals used in science.

Note: In New Zealand, approximately 300,000 animals- are used for research, testing, and teaching every year. Thousands of these animals are killed, and thousands of additional animals bred for science but never used are also killed.

There are no regulations currently in place in NZ that require institutes using animals for science to rehome them where possible, even when animals have been bred for science and never used. This results in the deaths of thousands of healthy animals each year.

The number of animals bred for science that were never used and subsequently killed has been monitored by the NZ Government since 2019:

- 2019: 159,149

- 2020: 149,496

- 2021: 178,569

Over these three years, 487,214 animals were bred for science, never used, and killed.

The University of Auckland is the only institute in NZ currently willing to regularly rehome animals with NZAVS.

The University of Auckland was an inaugural signatory to the 2021 Openness Agreement on Animal Research and Teaching in NZ and is committed to increasing communication about animal-based research. Although the University believes that the carefully regulated and judicious use of animals in research and teaching is still essential for discoveries to improve the health and well-being of humans and animals, protect the environment and make a vital contribution to understanding biological processes, it is committed to advancing the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (3Rs). This includes constantly improving standards of animal care and welfare, using as few animals as possible and only using animals when needed. 

NZAVS works to end animal experimentation and the harmful use of animals for science in NZ because of the many related ethical and scientific problems. Based on the research ( https://nzavs.org.nz/animal-testing-failure-rate) NZAVS has conducted, using animals to model human outcomes in research and testing is unreliable.

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