To get started, Dr Ottesen initially invited a group of internationally recognised experts—animal welfare specialists and species experts—to profile the most important needs of each animal in its natural habitat. Experts profiled mice, rats, guinea-pigs, rabbits, and dogs.
Since all animals need sufficient space to express species-specific behaviour within a complex, enriched environment it was assumed that new housing for every species would be more spacious than it had been. In addition, the profile of natural behaviour in the wild for each species included control of surroundings, security, safety, occupation, resting, nesting, and eating. Furthermore, Dr Ottesen asked each expert an unusual question: If you were going to build the best animal conditions, what would you do?
There were small and large group workshops— specialists from many countries who held diverse perspectives and who had had a wide variety of experience in the design of housing and management of animals gave valuable input and the Novo Nordisk animal caretakers came up with ideas on how the experts’ input could be translated into practical solutions. After a year, Dr Ottesen had a plan and the first prototypes for new housing solutions for some of the species were made. Was the Novo Nordisk team ready to build? Not at all. Dr Ottesen re-invited the group of experts to review the plan and make recommendations, but he also extended the invitations to a number of new experts. “We wanted new experts, new ideas, and new ways of seeing; we wanted people sympathetic to our aims to take a dispassionate look at our plan and enhance it”.
Interestingly, many of the experts that came back said that this second invitation came as a surprise to them. They were used to people asking for their advice; however, they had never been re-invited to see the preliminary results of their advice and with a wish to further enhance the housing.
Novo Nordisk started in an existing facility and later built new rodent and rabbit facilities from scratch. Rodent cages were no longer in the basement and there was a pen system for rabbits. With daylight available, scientists could control cycles of vision and employees could see the sunlight. To see videos of the new housing systems used by Novo Nordisk, go to www.novonordisk.com/science/bioethics/animal-videos.asp. Today there is a refurbished facility for dogs and pigs and the company anticipates one new refinement project each year. Top management are invigorated and the company is looking at the cost/benefit balance sheet in entirely new ways. Number of animals per square metres isn’t the gold standard any more.
We offer many thanks to our generous contributors.
- Browne, Jennifer N. Material Resources for Building Green Vivariums. ALN Magazine, January/February 2011. www.alnmag.com/article/material-resources-building-green-vivariums.
- Gitlin, Jonathan Max. Calculating the Economic Impact of the Human Genome Project. NIH, National Human Genome Research Institute, May 11, 2011. www.genome.gov/27544383.
- Honiotes, Chery. The Green Vivarium: Strategies for Sustainability. ALN Magazine, October 2010. www.alnmag.com/article/green-vivariumstrategies-sustainability .
- Watch, Daniel and Tolat, Deepa, Perkins and Will. Research Laboratory. Whole Building Design Guide, May 26, 2010. www.wbdg.org/design/research_lab.php.
Helen Kelly is a Contributing Editor at ALN World. She divides her time between Boston MA and Sheffield UK. HelenKellyLtd@aol.com
Vera Baumans, DVM, PhD, Dip ECLAM is a Laboratory Animal Science Specialist in the Department of Animals, Science and Society, Division of Laboratory Animal Science, at Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.