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The University of Otago is an internationally recognised research institution that conducts teaching and research involving the use of animals.

More about the use of animals in research and teaching at the University of Otago


All University of Otago staff and students are required to obtain permission from a University of Otago Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) to undertake manipulations on animals for research and teaching (the University of Otago does not permit or conduct animal testing).

The primary function of the AEC is to review Animal Use Protocols (AUPs) submitted by Principal Investigators, to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (1999) and the University's Code of Ethical Conduct. This ensures very high ethical standards for the use of animals at the University of Otago.

Among other things, researchers are required to minimise the ethical cost of animal use by applying the three Rs:

  1. Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques or avoid the use of animals.
  2. Reduce the number of animals to a minimum required to achieve the scientific requirements.
  3. Refine the way experiments are carried out to reduce animal suffering and enhance animal welfare.

All students intending to use animals must read the University of Otago Code of Ethical Conduct for the Use of Animals. The Principal Investigator for all AUPs submitted to the Animal Ethics Committee for student use, must be a University of Otago staff member.

University of Otago Code of Ethical Conduct for the Use of Animals (PDF)

Terms of Reference

The key functions of the AEC are as follows:

  • to ensure that the highest ethical standards are observed by all persons associated with it, in relation to the manipulation and use of animals.
  • to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999, including the Animal Welfare Amendment Act No. 2 (2015), by all persons named on approved AEC protocols.

Committee composition and membership

The University has two Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) that review applications from its three campuses (Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington). The members of the AECs include academics representing the scientific disciplines using animals, as well as lay members who are not involved in research, representing the wider community. This composition provides an understanding of what constitutes high quality research, excellent animal welfare, and the values of the public.

Each committee has: a senior academic representing the Code Holder (Vice-Chancellor); a number of research scientists representing the life sciences; external members nominated by the NZ Vet Association, an approved animal welfare organisation (such as RNZSPCA) and the local Regional Council; up to 8 additional members appointed by the Code Holder.

Relevant legislation and links to relevant national bodies

Research at the University of Otago complies with all legislation applicable to animal welfare. This includes, but is not restricted to:

  • The Animal Welfare Act 1991
  • The Agricultural Compounds & Veterinary Medicines Act 1997
  • The Hazardous Substances & New Organisms Act 1996

Animal use and welfare is strictly monitored by several national bodies including:


The University has an extensive training programme for researchers applying to use animals in research and teaching. This includes modules on applicable legislation, handling and restraint techniques, drug administration and surgical procedures.

Please visit the website of the Animal Welfare Office for further information.

Applying for ethical approval

In accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999, including the Animal Welfare Amendment Act No. 2 (2015), Animal Use Protocols (AUPs) must be submitted for the following:

  1. The manipulation of live animals in RTT
  2. The killing of animals for their tissue
  3. The breeding or production of animals for RTT that may result in the birth or production of animals that are more susceptible to, or at greater risk of, pain or distress during its life.

The AEC is responsible for the review of monitoring of animal welfare during protocol procedures, and end of project reports.

The AEC reviews and comments on other business related to animal use for RTT at the University of Otago.

Furthermore, all modifications to existing AUPs, including changes to animal numbers, changes to manipulations, and the addition of personnel, require approval from the AEC.

If the changes involve a major departure from the approved AUPs, a significant increase in numbers, or a change in impact grade, a new AUP should be submitted.

General enquiries should be directed to the relevant Secretary of the Animal Ethics Committee (see below).


Applications for approval of Animal Use Protocols must be made via the Integrated Animal Research Management System (IARMS). Please click here for more information about IARMS, including 'How to create an AUP Guide', 'How to modify an AUP form' and a list of the University of Otago approved SOPs. (Access for registered IARMS users only).  Contextual help is embedded in the online form.

Please use the IARMS New User Application Form to request access to IARMS. (PDF)

Once completed, the form should be sent to

Expiring AUP forms:

Upon AUP expiry/closure, please complete a Project Evaluation Report (PER) and email it to

If you ordered animals using Animal Management in IARMS, you will first need to get your animal use report from IARMS. This is called the   Experimental Use Report (EUR) which you can find in Reports in the main menu, under the sub heading Animal Utilization and Statistics. If no AUPs are showing for selection, please deselect 'Added in VTMVO'.   Please submit the EUR together with the PER.

If you did not order animals through IARMS, please complete the animal use statistics form below and submit with your PER.

2024 animal use statistics form (DOCX)

2024 project evaluation form (DOCX)

ITS training for IARMS

The approval process and notification of the review outcome

Following Committee review, the applicant will be advised of the outcome via IARMS, normally within 7–10 days of the meeting. Applicants can contact the AEC Secretary after the meeting for further information about the status of their application.

AEC application deadlines and meeting dates

All applications must be submitted on IARMS.

A compliance pre-review of all new AUPs and significant modifications is now required, to identify any welfare concerns in the study that can be addressed by the PI prior to AEC review. This will be undertaken by the Animal Welfare Office, and will provide veterinary input into the potential implications of the manipulations on an animal’s welfare. It will include a review of potential welfare impacts of the manipulations, any treatments, surgery, pain management, management of potential adverse effects, husbandry considerations, and environmental enrichments.

Please submit the AUP to AEC admin review, under workflow by the compliance deadline below, and the AEC Secretary will forward this to the AWO and any other relevant compliance reviewers for checking.

The AEC encourages researchers to seek biostatistical advice about new AUPs:

Biostatistics Centre – Division of Health Sciences

2024 Dunedin AEC (Rimu) dates

Compliance deadline Signing deadlineAEC 2024 meeting dates
12 Jan 26 Jan 7 Feb
9 Feb 23 Feb 6 Mar
8 March 22 Mar 3 Apr
5 April 19 Apr 1 May
10 May 24 May 5 June
7 June 21 June 3 July
12 July 26 Jul 7 Aug
9 August 23 Aug 4 Sept
6 Sept 20 Sept 2 Oct
11 Oct 25 Oct 6 Nov
8 Nov 22 Nov 4 Dec

2024 Northern campuses AEC (Kauri) dates

Compliance deadline Signing deadlineAEC 2024 meeting dates
26 Jan 9 Feb 22 Feb
23 Feb 8 Mar 21 Mar
22 Mar 5 Apr 18 Apr
19 Apr 3 May 16 May
24 May 7 Jun 20 Jun
21 Jun 5 Jul 18 Jul
26 Jul 9 Aug 22 Aug
23 Aug 6 Sep 19 Sep
20 Sep 4 Oct 17 Oct
18 Oct 1 Nov 14 Nov


AEC key contact personnel

AEC Secretary – IARMS System


Other useful contacts

To discuss animal welfare issues and experimental design relevant to your AEC application, please contact:

The Animal Welfare Office

Other information

The University has AEC equivalence; a protocol approved by any local Otago University AEC gives approval for animal use at all three Schools, subject to local arrangements with the Animal Facility Manager.

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