The Three Rs – Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement – are internationally accepted principles guiding the use of animals in research, testing and teaching, and are the guiding principles used by our national oversight agency, the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).


The principle of replacement seeks to avoid or replace the use of animals wherever possible. Many  non-animal alternatives exist for teaching. As such, replacement of animals is possible in many cases and it is the responsibility of UBC to take seriously the replacement of animals in undergraduate education.


When animals cannot be replaced, then the principle of reduction must be applied – that is, the minimum number of animals must be used. In the case of using animals in undergraduate teaching, this also applies and instructors are encouraged to design class plans that use the minimum number of animals, or animal-derived tissues or organs in their classes.


Where live animals are used, refinement must also be implemented – that is, any harm or distress experienced by the animals involved must be minimized, and their welfare should be enhanced wherever possible.

Ethical oversight of the use of animals in UBC courses

The use of animals in teaching is typically required to be reviewed by an institutional animal care committee. However, any animals procured from external sources, and not killed on site are exempt from this requirement. This means that any use of externally sourced animal cadavers for use in UBC undergraduate teaching labs has received no ethical review. This also means that the current number of animals used in teaching listed on the UBC Animals in Research website does not include any of the externally sourced animals used in dissections.

In addition, the primary company that supplies UBC with animals for undergraduate classes is not registered with CCAC.