Need to change the Vantage Point towards Laboratory Animals and Adopt Recreation as 6th R
Background: The concept of three R’s (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement) was introduced by William Russell and Rex Burch in 1959 in their book ‘The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique’. This was followed by the addition of two more R’s i.e. Rehabilitation and REUSE.
Objective: The objective is to understand the need to change our vantage point towards laboratory animal care and propose ‘RECREATION’ as yet another “R” to animal welfare. Recreation means the activities animals do for pleasure or enjoyment which is essential for physiological and psychological well being especially for animals in captivity.
Method: Recreation aids selected on the basis of preference tests done on rodents giving them the choices on what they prefer or need. Cage preference by mice was recorded by regular observation.
Results: The animal’s preferred enriched compartment (67.35±9.15 %) to the un-enriched one (32.64±9.14 %). The influence of enrichment on food intake shows the mice housed in enriched (EE) caging consumed less feed (during day 5 to day 10) when compared to the animal housed in un-enriched (UE) caging.
Conclusion: Recreation addresses all the issues ranging from animal welfare to research outcome by improving the physical and mental health of the laboratory animal, so adoption of "Recreation" as 6th "R" is not a choice rather a need. Housing conditions play a pivotal role in determining the experimental outcome as only a physically and mentally fit animal can provide reliable data and improve the quality of research.
Recreation activities in terms of environmental enrichment using enrichment devices have taken a place, in animal research in recent years. Indian animal facilities too need to adopt such useful practice of enrichment as a standard for taking the quality of research a step further.
Keywords - 3R’s, reduction, refinement, replacement, rehabilitation, reuse, recreation