Retirement Sanctuary for Laboratory Animals
An Alternative


“preferably, death should be avoided as an endpoint 
for animal experiments.”

Our Mission

Many researchers, veterinarians, health technicians and husbandry personnel develop close attachments to research animals they have cared for.  They have all experienced the termination of life of those animals.  These individuals seek a better opportunity for their animals once their experimental goals have been attained.  It is for these individuals that RSLA has streamlined the process of retiring research animals and has given research  institutions confidence that these animals will be well cared for and have rewarding lives.

We offer a wide variety of enclosures upon their arrival to deal with specific behaviors and medical conditions of each individual animal.  Animals are placed in specific enclosures and habitats to allow introductory behaviors of dominance and submissiveness to be established.  Further introductions into larger groups is done slowly by carefully utilizing the advice of animal behaviorists and veterinarians.  Physical as well as mental condition and age all play a critical role in the preliminary evaluation process. 

Conspecific interaction and environmental enrichment is tailored to the individual needs of not only each species but of each individual animal.  This enhances physical as well as cognitive well-being and offers a sense of control over their environment.

Only select  members of the sanctuary staff and sanctuary veterinarians are aware of what role these animals played in the field of science.  This knowledge is necessary only for environmental and physical needs should a problem arise.  The circumstances behind their arrival at the sanctuary are unimportant to the motives of this organization.

In the   AALAS Position Paper  2000 on the “Recognition and Alleviation of Pain and Distress in Laboratory Animals”, Marcelo Couto of the scientific advisory committee states “preferably, death should be avoided as an endpoint for animal experiments.”

As a researcher, were these animals important to you?

Did they benefit your research effort?

Do you want to contribute to their well being in return?

Indeed the consensus among researchers is “Retirement of research animals is beneficial to the animals if their physical and psychological needs can be met outside of the research institution."

This endeavor is one where we frequently find ourselves straddling the fence.  Research institutions take excellent care of their animals.  Their guidelines and regulations are strict.  However they rarely publicize that they do research on anything bigger than a rat.  We want to keep a close relationship with researchers yet fundraising frequently requires drama and trauma in its appeal to potential donors.  In order to keep a good working relationship and trust we must appeal to the practical side of this issue.  Good research exits and animals are taken excellent care of, but we want to help those who want their experimental colleagues to have a place of retirement where drama and trauma are not considered a routine part of fundraising.

RSLA will never claim it rescues animals.  These primates are not on a sinking ship and are not being abused by the research institutions.  However they did contribute to science.  Some will have had various pharmaceuticals either in an acute study or a more chronic form and some may have had surgical procedures performed.  

These animals are the silent ones.  They are written about in journals, they help contribute to financial gain of private and publicly funded institutions through the grants they receive.  But there is no recognition for these lovely animals beyond that point.  As stated earlier, many who fund research endeavors do not want to know about the individuals who literally gave of themselves.  The results are the most important accomplishment but not the journey of getting there.

Animal research is a large industry that supports vendors that supply food, bedding, medicine, equipment, surgical supplies and numerous pieces of equipment from blood gas analyzers to anesthesia machines.  The personnel infrastructure to support this endeavor is quite large as well.  Many individuals benefit and stand on the shoulders of these animals.

The biggest governmental granting agencies do not set aside funds to allow for retirement.  And not all animals will be able to retire depending on the studies they were in that may require tissues sample at the end of life.  We have encountered researchers who use not only their personal funds but have fundraisers to help their animals retire.  That is a daunting task considering life time support can be substantial.

 RSLA…does not refer to the animals we acquire from research institutions as animals we have “rescued”.

 RSLA…understands that biomedical institutions seek alternatives to euthanasia and that current sanctuary space is limited.

 RSLA…asks that institutions promote retirement, when possible, to sanctuaries as a tool to demonstrate a responsible research ethic of the institution.

 RSLA…keeps all information and records pertaining to animals confidential.

 RSLA…is not open to the public.