controls in multiple sites. Duplicate equipment (e.g., cage washers) may be needed, or soiled materials may need to be moved distances for processing. But decentralization may be preferred for certain specialized research services such as imaging, quarantine, and proximity to research facilities, or for biosecurity reasons. Decentralization may be necessary to accommodate large or complex equipment, such as magnetic resonance imaging, or to permit space sharing by users from multiple facilities or institutions. The opportunity for exposure to disease agents is much greater in these situations and special consideration should be given to biosecurity, including transportation to and from the site, quarantine before or after use of the specialized research area, and environmental and equipment decontamination.

The decisions leading to selection of physically centralized versus decentralized animal facilities should be made early and carefully and should involve all stakeholders (NRC 1996; Ruys 1991).


Professional judgment should be exercised in the development of a practical, functional, and efficient physical plant for animal care and use. The size, nature, and intensity of an institutional Program (see Chapter 2) will determine the specific facility and support functions needed. In facilities that are small, maintain few animals, or maintain animals under special conditions—such as facilities used exclusively for housing gnotobiotic or specific pathogen-free (SPF) colonies or animals in runs, pens, or outdoor housing—some functional areas listed below may be unnecessary or may be included in a multipurpose area.

Space is required for the following:

  • animal housing, care, and sanitation

  • receipt, quarantine, separation, and/or rederivation of animals

  • separation of species or isolation of individual projects when necessary

  • storage.

Most multipurpose animal facilities may also include the following:

  • specialized laboratories or space contiguous with or near animal housing areas for such activities as surgery, intensive care, necropsy, irradiation, preparation of special diets, experimental procedures, behavioral testing, imaging, clinical treatment, and diagnostic laboratory procedures

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