Animal Ethics Overview

About Us

The Animal Ethics Team is part of the Research Ethics Office within Research and Innovation Services (RIS). The team's job is to ensure that all research and teaching involving animals is in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (the Code) and the ACT Animal Welfare Act 1992 (The Code).

The team provides administrative support for the University's Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) and the ethics application process, as well as training and supporting research staff, managing state and territory licences, and co-ordinating inspections of animal facilities. The Animal Ethics Team does not approve ethics applications. Ethics applications are reviewed and approved by the AEC according to the Code.


Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) »

Any research or teaching involving animals* has to be approved by the AEC before it can start. This includes observation-only studies (to assess whether the study might disturb the animals' natural behaviour and environment), and may include projects that use animal cadavers.

If you aren't sure whether you need ethics approval, please contact the office at

*Animals requiring ethics approval at ANU

"Animal" is defined in the Code as any live non-human vertebrate (that is, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals encompassing domestic animals, purpose bred animals, livestock, wildlife), adult decapod crustaceans and cephalopods.

The Code, on page 1 under ‘Scope of the Code’, also advises that ‘institutions are responsible for determining when the use of an animal species not covered by the Code requires approval from an AEC, taking into account emerging evidence of sentience and ability to experience pain and distress.’ The ANU, among other Australian universities, has therefore included adult decapod crustaceans.

Live animals requiring ethics approval at ANU are:

  • non-human vertebrates 
  • cephalopods.
  • adult decapod crustaceans  
  • embryos, foetuses and larval forms that have progressed beyond half their species gestation or incubation period, or when they become capable of independent feeding. 


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