Monitoring measures are undertaken to assess, or to ensure the assessment of, the wellbeing of animals in accordance with Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (the Animal Use Code).

Monitoring occurs at different levels including investigator monitoring, monitoring by Animal Ethics Committees (AECs), the Office of Research Ethics, and/or monitoring by regulatory bodies.  

Investigator monitoring of animals being used for scientific purposes

Score sheets

Score sheets are an appropriate way to monitor pain and distress in animals. Projects using invasive techniques on animals require score sheets that are approved by the Veterinary Officer and the AEC. A score sheet allows for a systematic assessment of the animals’ wellbeing and provides valuable information of the parameters that will be monitored, at what point intervention will take place and an end point at which an animal will be euthanased.

The Animal Ethics Unit has developed sample score sheets. These score sheets can be tailored to suit different projects and species. UQ staff and students should obtain approval of score sheets from the Veterinary Officer before submitting an ethics application to the AEC.

The Guideline to promote the wellbeing of animals used for scientific purposes describes the need to develop a monitoring strategy that incorporates the following:

  • clinical signs or observations that will be used to assess an animal’s wellbeing or clinical condition as the project progresses
  • clinical signs or combination of clinical signs that will indicate that intervention (including euthanasia) is necessary
  • actions that will be taken if a problem is detected
  • frequency of monitoring
  • people who will conduct the monitoring, and their training
  • system for the recording of observations.

In addition, the document, Humane Endpoints for Laboratory Animals Used in Regulatory Testing by William S Stokes (2002) may assist in developing monitoring score sheets.

Monitoring by the AEC and Veterinary Officer, including Monitoring Zones

Under the Animal Care and Protection Act (2001) QLD via the Animal Use Code there is a requirement for all work involving animals to be monitored. There are several layers to the monitoring process.

  • Monitoring of animal houses/holding facilities and laboratories in the form of inspections undertaken by the AEC
  • Monitoring of individual projects/activities undertaken by the Veterinary Officer on behalf of the AEC, and/or a designated delegate(s)
  • Monitoring undertaken as an audit by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) as the regulatory body

UQ has established three ‘zones’ to facilitate monitoring.

Zone 1 

Zone 1 includes work being undertaken on UQ campuses and institutions and related institutions that are aligned with an UQ AEC. Monitoring is by the AEC and/or the Veterinary Officer as appropriate.

Zone 2

Zone 2 includes work being undertaken either by:

  • UQ staff and students in field locations not attached to a UQ campus
  • external organisations for which the UQ AECs are responsible. This encompasses an area that extends from the Gold Coast (south) to Gatton (west), Caboolture (north) and the Moreton Bay Research Station (east).

Individual teaching or research projects, animal holding areas and field trip work in this area is monitored under the direction of the AEC by the Veterinary Officer and usually consists of a small monitoring team with at least one external AEC member. 

Zone 3

Zone 3 includes work being undertaken by UQ staff and students at remote sites external to Zone 1 and 2 within Australia and overseas. Monitoring of these projects is undertaken in keeping with the relative impact on animal welfare, habitat and behaviour at the discretion of the AEC. Projects, holding facilities and field work are deemed to be low or high risk.

Low risk

At the early stage of a project, the research team provides monitoring information to the AEC for consideration, prior to AEC approval being granted for the work in the form of:

  • a report
  • photographic imaging
  • video imaging.

Medium to high risk

The Chief Investigator of the project is asked to provide an External Monitoring Nomination (DOCX, 184.8 KB) to the relevant AEC for consideration. The nominated monitor should be aware of the project aims and have experience and appropriate qualifications but must be indpendent of the project. Contact the Animal Ethics Unit for further details regarding nominations.