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.

3 Rs implementation award

NAEAC coordinates the Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield 3 Rs Implementation Award which recognises people and institutions that are proactively finding ways to replace, reduce, or refine the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching in New Zealand.

The Award is sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching.

3-Rs-awards-recipients.pdf pdf 122KB

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