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Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Research Animals
research facilities; additional handling to precondition the animals to transportation handling is probably not necessary.
Many species of research animals are typically handled and then caged for transportation, and this practice can produce an additive stress effect of both the handling and the novel enclosure. Although an animal’s stress response to human handling associated with transportation may not be completely ameliorated, the method of handling can reduce or exacerbate the stress response. Kannan and Mench (1996) demonstrated substantial physiological response differences between methods of handling of laying hens. Either birds were captured and then held and carried inverted (single carry or multi-bird carry) or single birds were captured and then held upright and carried gently. When compared with unhandled controls, both methods produced an alarm response. However, gentle upright handling yielded a lower response than inverted handling. Kannan and Mench (1996) also found that caging of the birds produced a powerful fear response. Capture, carrying, and caging were found to be less stressful to chickens when conducted under low light (Knowles and Broom, 1990).
The activity of horses during road transportation can contribute to the increased incidence of injury or stress. The physiological responses of horses to head restraint (cross-tied vs. loose) after 24 hr of transportation were measured by Stull and Rodiek (2000). Cross-tied horses had higher blood glucose and cortisol concentrations, neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratios, and white blood cell counts than horses traveling loose in small compartments. The authors recommended that horses be allowed to travel loose during long periods of transportation.
For facilities or people that transport large numbers of animals, the quality of transportation can be monitored by tracking mortality, morbidity, and injury during transportation and comparing these measures with published data. For instance, Malaga et al. (1991) reported that in-transit mortality for air transport of owl monkeys (Aotus nancymai) was 0.67% and total mortality at the end of a 30-day observation period was 2.44%. When mortality, morbidity, or injury exceed published norms (for instance, exceeding 2 standard deviations from the mean), action should be taken to adjust protocols or provide training. If small numbers of animals are occasionally transported, careful attention should be paid to ensuring that a reputable shipper is used and that the entire trip is adequately planned to transfer the animals smoothly from consignor to carrier, shipper, and consignee.