Replacement, reduction, and refinement (the 3 Rs)

The 3 Rs principles (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) provide a framework for performing more humane animal research and are recognised in New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation, the Animal Welfare Act 1999. 

The 3 Rs refer to:

  • replacement of animals with a less sentient or non-sentient alternative wherever possible
  • reduction in the numbers of animals to the minimum necessary to achieve a result
  • refinement of procedures and animal environments to minimise pain or distress.

Research funding

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund is a source of investment from central government for research involving the 3 Rs.

Expressions of interest with proposals relating to 3 Rs research should be sent to SFF Futures in the first instance.

Fourth R

NAEAC received and discussed an internal paper suggesting that adding the concept of 'Respect' as a fourth R could unify competing ethical perspectives to further improve animal welfare.

The concept of respect could be applied across different ethical views. For example, the term 'Respect' addresses the anti-vivisection perspective that all animals have an inherent value while remaining compatible with the science perspective that animals have instrumental value.

NAEAC has agreed to support the fourth R in principle and will continue discussions on the matter.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about NAEAC, email

Last reviewed: 23 Nov 2021