LAS Pro March 2019

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March 2019

Knock Out Tech Tips AALAS members share strategies to advance husbandry efforts.

Tours and Teaching: Outreach Trio Provides Inspiration and Guidance A Leap of Faith Helps Refugee Build a New Life in America

New Community Platform Encourages Engagement

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March 2019 Vol. 7 Issue 1



Serving up the ACE


Taking the Tour


Open Home and Open Hearts


The AALAS Community Exchange (ACE) provides a dynamic engagement platform for members.

From branches to businesses, three outreach efforts take center stage.

A leap of faith leads an AALAS member and her family to welcome a Ugandan refugee to America.

30 On the cover: Chrissy Sherrill, BS is a Research Laboratory Technician IV and the Kavanagh Laboratory Director at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. Photo courtesy of Lauren Carroll, Wake Forest University.

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DEPARTMENTS 5 Publisher’s Note

38 Tech Tips

6 People & Places

61 AALAS Connection

10 PROfiles in LAS

63 Ad Index

Defining Community

New hires, promotions, awards, and memorials

Meet David Lopez

36 What’s Your Solution? Enrichment for singly housed mice

4 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Insights on techniques and tactics

Compensation survey, ILAM news, and the AALAS Foundation Memorial Wall

64 Pet Talk

AALAS members talk about their pets


PUBLISHER’S NOTE Staff Publisher Ann Turner Associate Publisher Chris Lyons

Defining Community

Managing Editor John Farrar

Four beauty parlors. Three churches. Two stores. Two gas stations. One school. A seed barn and a cotton gin. That was Mason Hall, TN, the town where I grew up. During my childhood, Mason Hall had 150 people in a half-mile radius of the general store. For me, that deep sense of what it means to be a member of a community comes directly from where I was raised. Mason Hall wasn’t unique. It was like many other small towns in rural America. If information wasn’t shared over a counter in the general store, or from a barber’s chair, it came via the telephone party line and our town’s phone operator, Fanny McBurney. Fanny knew who was sick and who needed help. She also knew how to rally the troops. When the cotton gin caught fire, she had everyone there ready to assist. Fanny was the central and most pivotal point of contact in our community for information. For those of you who had to look up what a party line was, even before the internet and phones that can do everything from taking a picture to giving us directions, communication happened. Information was shared. Connections were made. As you explore this issue of LAS Pro, you will find an article about the ACE. ACE is the AALAS Community Exchange, our new community platform. The ACE will be a unique way for the AALAS community to share information and to connect. As it rolls out to the membership, I hope you find the ACE to be as exciting as I do. It is a fantastic way to engage and learn. Everyone needs to connect, the only thing that has changed is the venue. Technology has made big changes in our lives and in how information is shared, but it is all still about coming together as a community and sharing knowledge. While the ACE is much removed from party-line telephone technology, we hope you find it a resource that will grow our sense of community and enhance your AALAS experience.

Ann Turner

Associate Editor Liz Rozanski Ad Sales John Farrar Design/Production AALAS Art Director Brad Troxel

Editorial Advisory Board David Bienus USAMRIID Andrew Burich Benaroya Research Institute Bob Dauchy Tulane Univ School of Medicine David DeOrnellis Champions Oncology Penny Devlin Pennsylvania State Univ College of Med Sonia Doss Duke Univ Medical Center Jamie Naden Envigo Elizabeth Nunamaker Univ of Florida Karuna Patil Univ of Arizona Robin Tucker Georgetown Univ

Mission Statement Laboratory Animal Science Professional (LAS Pro) is the official magazine for American Association for Laboratory Animal Science members. LAS Pro provides a wide range of useful resources and knowledge to the association’s 13,000 laboratory animal science professionals who are involved in advancing responsible laboratory animal care and use to benefit people and animals. All signed articles, including, committee reports, news, and commentary, reflect the individual views of the authors and are not official views of AALAS. Authorization to photocopy portions for personal or internal use is granted by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. Photocopying for purposes of resale or outside distribution is prohibited unless written approval is obtained from the AALAS Director of Communications. Copyright 2019 by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. Laboratory Animal Science Professional (USPS 010-730) is published quarterly by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 9190 Crestwyn Hills Drive, Memphis, TN 38125. Periodicals Postage paid at Memphis, TN 38101 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to AALAS, 9190 Crestwyn Hills Drive, Memphis, TN 38125-8538.

Publisher Executive Director American Association for Laboratory Animal Science American Association for Laboratory Animal Science 9190 Crestwyn Hills Drive Memphis, TN 38125-8538 Phone: 901-754-8620 Fax: 901-753-0046 E-mail: Web:

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 5


New hires, promotions, meeting updates, and memorials.

In Memoriam Pravin N. Bhatt, DrPH Submitted by Robert Jacoby, DVM, PhD, DACVP We announce, with deep regret, the death of Pravin N. Bhatt in October 2018. Pravin was born in Bhavnagar, India and received his medical degree from Benares Hindu University in 1948 followed by a year as a Special Fellow at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. His intense interest in public health took him to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana where, in 1954, he received master’s degrees in public health and tropical medicine. During the next decade, he held several positions in public health in the United States and India; first, as an assistant in epidemiology at Tulane, followed by stints as a research officer in the G.S. Medical College, Bombay, India, and at the Virus Research Center in Poona, India. He then returned to Tulane to obtain a Doctor of Public Health degree in 1964. With his research doctorate in hand, he served for 4 years as Senior Research Officer at the Poona laboratory. Then, his increasing international recognition as a virologist led to his recruitment in 1968 by the Section (now Department) of Comparative Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, a position he held throughout his scientific career and which led to an appointment as Senior Research Scientist. He also served as Director of Yale’s Department of Biological Safety and was a member of Yale’s International Health Committee. His research centered on viral diseases of animals and humans. His many key contributions to these fields included seminal work on coronaviruses, herpesviruses, and poxviruses and are reflected authorship or co-authorship of 60 scientific papers and 10 reviews and book chapters. His contributions embellished his institutional, national and international reputation as a leader in his field. His awards both before and after joining the Yale faculty included: The Colonel

Armichand Prize from the Indian Council of Medical Research for outstanding contributions to medical science, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and a Merck Faculty Development Award. His outstanding contributions to comparative medicine and laboratory animal science were honored with the Charles A. Griffith Award and the Nathan R. Brewer Research Award from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) and Honorary Membership in the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. He founded the AALAS American Committee on Laboratory Animal Diseases and was key to establishing the AALAS Young Investigator Award in 1994. The award is now called the Pravin N Bhatt Scientific Investigator Award. The award recognizes scientists who make significant contributions to the fields of laboratory animal science or comparative medicine. The award winner is invited to present a lecture at the AALAS National Meeting. Dr. Bhatt also was a member of several prestigious scientific societies including the American Society of Virology, Society of Sigma Xi, American Association of Immunologists, and the Infectious Disease Society of America. Aside from his scientific accomplishments, Dr. Bhatt was an exemplary Yale University citizen. He and his wife Indu counseled many Yale students about career paths, and he served as secretary for the South Asia Studies Committee in the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. These activities reflect his lifelong commitment to service, a heritage he first learned as a youth in India. He was married for more than 60 years to his beloved wife Indu who died several years ago. He is survived by his son, Nochi Bhatt of Hamden, CT, daughter Sujata Augustine of Bremen, Germany, and 3 grandchildren, Michael, Jenny, and Dean.

n OAALAS Enjoys Apple Picking Outing

It wouldn’t be fall without jumping in piles of leaves, cozying up to the fire with a favorite warm beverage, or carving the scariest pumpkin on the block. For the over 5,000 monkeys that call the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) home, fall means one very special enrichment item, apples. The ONPRC is home to an apple orchard that was first planted in the 1960s to provide a sustainable source of enrichment for the monkeys. Since then, the orchard has provided a bountiful source of apples and pears for both the human and nonhuman primates of the ONPRC. On 6 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Dr. Robert Zweig mans the grill while OAALAS members enjoy a barbecue lunch.

an unseasonably sunny day in October, 50 members of the Oregon branch of AALAS (OAALAS) visited the ONPRC to help pick apples for the monkeys. A barbecue lunch and tours of the center were also provided for members and their families. In one afternoon OAALAS members picked 31 boxes of apples and made many monkeys very happy. The branch looks forward to making this an annual event and helping the ONPRC achieve its goals of sustainability and outstanding animal care.

n Dr. Toth Tours South America

AALAS journals’ Editor in Chief, Dr. Linda Toth, recently traveled to South America where she ventured around Cape Horn. Traveling from calm waters to white caps with strong winds, Dr. Toth was able to observe the local wildlife including dolphins, sea lions, and penguins.

NHPs at ONPRC enjoy apples from the orchard located on the ground of the center.

AALAS journals’ Editor in Chief, Dr. Linda Toth with penguins near Punta Arenas, the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region.

n Submit Tech Week 2019 Recaps to LAS Pro

We hope you had a great Tech Week. LAS Pro will be accepting photos and recaps from your celebrations to feature in the June magazine. Submit 1-2 photos (must be 300 DPI jpegs or tifs) and a 75-100-word recap of your event to Deadline to submit is April 9. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity. Photo selection will be determined by the graphic design team. LAS Pro will offer a cover contest again! We are looking for a June cover photo that highlights the 2019 Tech Week celebrations. Please note, cover images require special composition: • Photographs must be submitted in a vertically framed shot. • No more than two people should be featured. • Room must be left in the image for text overlays. • Photos must be sent as jpeg or tifs at 300 DPI and measuring 8.75” x 11.125”. Questions? Contact us at Deadline to submit is April 9. Photo selection will be determined by the graphic design team.



The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) and our affiliate supporter, the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS), announce the annual event recognizing laboratory animal technicians around the world for their essential contributions as members of the research team.

AALAS advances responsible laboratory animal care and use to benefit people and animals. BRAD TROXEL

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 7


New hires, promotions, meeting updates, and memorials.

n A New U.S. Citizen

Nick Van De Velde, PhD, an Educational Resources Editor at the AALAS National Office, recently became a United States citizen. In honor of his new status, his colleagues in the Education and Scientific Affairs department decorated his cubicle with Chester, the AALAS bookstore mascot, and several red, white, and blue items. Nick hails from Australia and will maintain dual citizenship.

n NJAALAS Invites Tech Night Presenters

n AALAS National Office Staff Update

Amy Sauls, CAE (bottom right), has retired from the AALAS National Office. Amy served as the Human Resources and Volunteer Engagement Manager and started her career at AALAS in 1998. Mary Kathryn Billings, MBA, CAE (top right), formerly the Professional Services Coordinator in the Professional Services department will replace Amy. Best wishes to Amy on her retirement and congratulations to Mary Kathryn on her promotion. In addition, John D. Farrar, MBA, CAE has been promoted to Director of Business Development and Communications.

n Avidity Science Celebrates 50th Anniversary

New Jersey Branch (NJAALAS) is dedicated to promoting education to their membership to keep people engaged and well informed. Most importantly, the branch gathers to share information so as a community it can cultivate creativity to change, refine, and improve all aspects of the LAS field. The branch will host its annual Tech Night in May. This is an incredible opportunity for current members to present on a topic for approximately 5-7 minutes and to answer questions afterward. These presentations provide an opportunity to share novel ideas, procedures, devices, etc., but also allows the opportunity to practice presenting while making new connections. The presentations are judged, and the one with the most votes will win a monetary award to attend the 2019 National AALAS Meeting in Denver, Colorado. NJAALAS invites all current members to contact Lisa Stanislawczyk (lisa.stanislawczyk@bms. com) for additional questions/information, or to throw a hat in the ring to present on this fun-filled educational night. Oh, and there’s food too!

Avidity Science launched its golden anniversary on February 18, 2019 with a yearlong celebration of achievements and milestones from the past 50 years. Avidity Science, formerly known as Edstrom Industries, has become a leading innovator in the global science community through a unique combination of water purification and delivery, environmental monitoring, and service solutions. Today, more than 17 million Edstrom™ animal watering valves operate worldwide. Doug Lohse, CEO said, “The same commitment to quality and innovation established in 1969 by the company’s founders, Bill and Sylvia Edstrom, will remain our focus as we look ahead to the next 50 years. We are proud of our role in supporting life changing research, and we want to sincerely thank our customers for the trust they have placed in Avidity Science.” Join the celebration and take a walk through a half-a-century worth of history and developments by visiting 8 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

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PRO-files in LAS

minutes with...

David R. Lopez, BGS, LVT, RLATG

Facility/Employer: Chapman University Job Title: Vivarium Manager How did you get in this field? I realized early on that private practice was not for me. Luckily, I had the unique opportunity to finish my vet tech school preceptorships at the VA in Buffalo, NY where I learned that the animals in our care are all there with a purpose, receive the gold standard of care, and help advance both human and animal medicine. Lab animal science shed a whole new light on my love for animals and how I can be of service to them. Who were your mentors? Dr. Valerie Macer (Medaille College) introduced me to everything clinical and husbandry in mice, rats, and rabbits. Val helped me get my first lab animal job at the VA in Buffalo with Rebecca Benz, and Becky was super patient with me as I learned the importance of SOPs and colony management. Cheryl Johnson (University of Arizona) taught me husbandry and facility operations for 16 species of animals, and Dr. CJ Doane taught me everything I know on primate surgical and clinical care. Dr. George Peavy (UCIrvine) taught me protocol development and compliance matters. Rosa Harmon has been my closest friend and mentor since meeting at D8 in Portland, and I’m here in California all thanks to her. What are your current interests in animal science? I’ve taken an interest in teaching, training, and continuous improvement. I currently support 8 primary investigators, and I find great satisfaction in helping them refine their methods and teach them updated or new skills.

Getting Personal Best binge-watching TV series? Great British Bake Off What is the last book you read? Martha Stewart’s 1982 classic, “Entertaining”, as part of a monthly cookbook book club I host. Where is your favorite vacation spot? San Francisco is always an adventure in music and food. What is your favorite dessert? Puerto Rican Flan

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I just recently celebrated my first decade in this field and I’m currently reimagining what the next five years will look like. My hope is to continue expanding the services I provide at my institution, as well as be more involved with SCB and National AALAS. Do you have any goals for this year? Two big goals for the year: I will finish getting my CMAR this year and continue working on a successful brunch business. What advice do you have for others just beginning their animal science career? Learn everything your heart desires to learn. Move for the opportunities you need. And most definitely get all the necessary credentials and bachelors/ masters’ education. Both private small animal hospitals and laboratory animal settings can be restrictive with growth and limited professional opportunities, but the limits can sometimes be self-imposed. What is the most rewarding aspect of your career? My every day work makes me feel proud. Knowing we are advancing medicine in some way, no matter how big or small the discovery, makes this all worth it. It was great to see the full process of a medical device go from development, to preclinical, clinical, and finally market. What we do matters! What has been the most challenging aspect of your career? Being patient with the process. Compassion fatigue is a real thing, but it’s a burden I will carry for life in this career because I will always care. It is impossible to care less, but we learn to cope in healthier ways. What companion animals do you have? Surprisingly, none right now but I do have over 40 house plants.

10 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019


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AALAS Journals

Explore recent articles in JAALAS and CM. THREE MUST READ ARTICLES IN NOVEMBER 2018 JAALAS By Sonia Doss, MEd, RLATG, CPIA, LAS Pro Editorial Advisory Board

Effects of Music Enrichment on Individually House Male New Zealand White Rabbits

As we all know music can be a form of enrichment for many species. The theory which is used in the development of species-specific music involves finding the right external rhythm (music) that matches an animal’s internal rhythm thus helping the animal relax. Classical music has been shown to decrease anxiety in several species. Did you know there are commercial species-specific CDs available for rabbits? If you are looking for an inexpensive and easy way to provide novel enrichment for your laboratory housed rabbits check out this article in which aged male NZW rabbits were exposed to rabbit-specific music and see how they reacted. Peveler JL, Hickman DL. 2018. Effects of music enrichment on individually housed male New Zealand white rabbits. J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci 57: 695–697.

Body Condition Scoring for Adult Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Many of us are familiar with the body condition scoring (BCS) of both pet and research animals as it is frequently used to assess the overall body condition of an individual animal. Did you know zebrafish researchers have developed a BCS for zebrafish? The zebrafish as a research model is increasing in popularity but it can be challenging to evaluate their overall health and welfare. The authors developed an easy-to-use system in which observers can easily assess body condition and thus identify those in poor condition that may need further assessment. They also included a diagram-based chart of both lateral and dorsal views for each BCS. This article should be on your reading list if you are using zebrafish in research and you are not familiar with the BCS this species. Clark TS, Pandolfo LM, Marshall CM, Mitra AK, Schech JM. 2018. Body condition scoring for adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci 57: 698–702.

12 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Home Cage Compared with Induction Chamber for Euthanasia of Laboratory Rats

Euthanasia should be performed in a manner that minimizes pain and distress. The standard practice is to use the home cage (if possible) during rodent CO2 euthanasia. The author explores the idea that if a home cage is preferred for euthanasia that perhaps a home cage for induction of inhalant anesthesia is preferable to an induction chamber. The study compares both behavioral and physiological changes in two species of rats euthanized in CO2 in the home cage as compared to the induction chamber. Check out the November issue of JAALAS to see the results. Hickman DL. 2018. Home cage compared with induction chamber for euthanasia of laboratory rats. J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci 57: 729–733.


Endpoints for Aged Mice

As medical advances continue to extend the average human health and life span, the research field of “aging science” has expanded and with it there has been increased utilization of geriatric mice to model the physical, cognitive, and behavioral changes experienced in both healthy aging and age-related disease. With the use of geriatric mice also comes the significant clinical and regulatory challenges of properly assessing and predicting imminent death in animals without interfering with scientific goals which may include studying longevity or lifespan. In this article, Toth provides an overview of mouse-adapted assessments of aging and their ease of use and ability to inform decisions about study endpoints. In addition, the article provides a comprehensive look at easier to implement tools such as measurement of body weight and body temperature and how well they predict death. Taken together this article presents a lot of food for thought about approaches we can implement that reduce suffering while also benefiting aging research being performed. This overview article can be found in the December 2018 edition of Comparative Medicine and is a must read for veterinarians and IACUCs at institutions housing aged mice. Toth AT. 2018. Identifying and implementing endpoints for geriatric mice. Comp Med 68: 439–451.

Baby, It’s Cold Inside

The potential effects of husbandry and housing conditions on rodent model reproducibility have been at the forefront of many peoples’ minds in laboratory animal science lately. It has been shown for example, mice and rats prefer temperatures warmer than most animal facilities provide and that outcomes of certain models vary with ambient temperature via an effect on the animal’s metabolism. This article provides a thorough review of the biology behind thermogenesis in mice and rats, how it varies between species and settings, and documented effects on specific areas of research including immunology, cancer biology and infectious disease research. While it may leave you with more questions than you began, this exhaustive look at what we do know about the effect of environmental temperatures on rodent models of research is an important starting point for a dialogue about what we can or should do to control these effects. Hankenson CF, Marx JO, Gordon CJ, David JM. 2018, Effects of Rodent Thermoregulation on Animal Models in the Research Environment. Comp Med 68: 425-438

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16 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Making Connections: Take Part in the AALAS Community Exchange AALAS serves up the AALAS Community Exchange (ACE) to provide new engagement resources for its members. By Mary Kathryn Billings, MBA, CAE and Liz Rozanski, BA


ommunication may be easier than ever as mobile devices, personal computers, and access to multiple social media platforms allow users to explore beyond their immediate location and acquaintances. However, the sheer volume of information available can make establishing productive relationships and finding quick answers difficult. AALAS has always stressed the importance networking holds in completing its mission to advance responsible laboratory animal care and use to benefit people and animals. To honor that mission and aid the over 14,000 AALAS members to partner with the association fully, AALAS invested in an online community platform to help members connect, engage, and communicate.

The ACE Encourages Engagement

AALAS President, Morag Mackay believes the ACE is the ideal way for AALAS members to collaborate.

AALAS President, Morag Mackay, says the AALAS Community Exchange (ACE) will be the ideal method to encourage discussion and get feedback. “The ACE is the perfect way for members to communicate, collaborate on documents, share files, ask questions, and more. The community platforms create private, secure communities to drive interactions, share knowledge, and encourage engagement among members,” Mackay said. The association hopes to create an invaluable, searchable resource for members while also providing a new and exciting way for people to make connections. The ACE is a place for members to post questions, respond to peers, view a library of resources, and share stories. Mackay hopes the ACE will make AALAS members feel more involved. “The ACE will let them know that they can make a difference in the LAS community,” she added. AALAS members will be able to rely on the ACE as a support system, a user-friendly means to reach out to other AALAS members across the country. For example, members who cannot attend the National Meeting, a valuable networking experience for many professionals in the field, the ACE can be a “virtual” networking opportunity. Need ideas on how to host a fantastic Tech Week? Party planners can

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 17

visit the ACE and search for what other groups have done to honor the excellent work technicians provide every day, all year long.

Getting Started

Morgan Holmes, pictured here with her 9-month-old pet rat, Spike, likes the utility of the library section in the ACE.

The ACE is designed to be user-friendly. All AALAS members will have access to the open forum to view or make discussion posts, review documents, or add to the library. While members are encouraged to post and respond to questions, that is not a requirement to be a part of the community. Members can view and search previous discussions to help answer questions and review the community library for various resources. To get started, members will login to Login information for the community is the same as the member’s login information for the AALAS website. Need a quick link? Use the community link at the bottom of the AALAS homepage. Here’s a pro tip: bookmark the ACE on the device’s toolbar. After logging into the site, view the open forum. From there, explore! View the history of discussion postings by clicking the Discussion link in the open forum/all member community. See what documents have been posted by clicking the Library link. Post a question by clicking “Add” next to Latest Discussion Post or “post new message” on the Discussion board. Peruse discussion posts and library documents by searching for your favorite topic in the search bar. The search is one of the best and most useful features. It will search every community a user has joined for any discussion postings, library entries, or calendar events that relate to the keyword search. Morgan Holmes, a sales director with Envigo, has participated as an ACE beta-tester and has become a fan of the library feature. “The library section of the new community platform is my favorite feature. Any shared documents, videos, or pictures are all located in one place. You can then sort through these items by category or search directly for the item you need. From there, you can view or even download for your records,” Holmes said.

You’re in Control

Drew Martin likes how the ACE provides a discussion forum for timely issues, like breast cancer awareness (the llama’s fur was colored with kool-aid for a breast cancer awareness event).

Drew Martin, Assistant Chief and Surgical Veterinarian at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, has also participated as an ACE betatester. She has been impressed with the efficiency and flexibility of the ACE. “This platform could significantly cut down a member’s daily email traffic. The ACE allows discussion threads on timely animal and facility-related topics. It also provides the option of receiving the digest version of the day’s key discussion threads through an end of the day summary email,” Martin said. Users can update privacy settings, email preferences, and community notifications from the profile page. This includes how often, and which email notifications will be sent. For the open forum, a daily digest is best practice. The daily digest is summary of the day’s postings. Users can click on the link to any discussion post in the daily digest, and the link will redirect to it. If email notifications are set to real-time, the inbox will immediately receive every discussion post and reply that is made. Users have the option to personalize community notice frequency. The daily digest is a great way to review what’s going on and see if there’s anything a user might want to answer. “The daily digest feature allows you to review a key discussion or discussions at your own pace and reply as you see fit,” Martin added.

18 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Building a Network

Johnny Wilson is a Technical Sales Consultant with Allentown and as a betatester for the ACE has been exploring the networking side of the platform.

Being able to personalize the ACE is essential when it comes to using the platform for networking. Find friends, colleagues, and peers in the Member Directory, and add them as contacts. When another member is added as a contact, their information will be saved in the My Connections section in Contacts—a virtual personal directory of user connections. When you click on Networks in My Connections, users can find other members in the area, with the same credentials, members at the same company, within the same area of employment, or at similar facilities. Allentown technical sales consultant, Johnny Wilson has also served as a beta-tester for the ACE and appreciates the networking side of the ACE for any size of a group. “The new community platform allows users to communicate and network with each other in real time. AALAS members, in large or small groups, can achieve a true interaction without the back and forth of traditional email,” Wilson said. “This digital medium offers a fantastic opportunity for members to network year-round, not just at the National and District meetings,” Drew Martin added.

Growing the ACE

Ann Turner, AALAS’ Executive Director, feels the ACE is one of the most exciting member engagement tools she’s experienced.

Ann Turner, AALAS Executive Director, spearheaded the acquisition of the community platform system and views the ACE as an important member benefit. “I have been involved in association management for almost four decades and am more excited about community platforms as a vehicle for member engagement than any other tool that has come along,” Turner said. As the ACE grows, the need to form new communities will develop based on members’ needs and how they are engaging with the platform. “The ACE offers the ‘place’ for AALAS members to connect with other members for knowledge, support, and ideas. Some communities will be small and very focused, while others may be large and of general interest. Communities are what the membership makes them!” Turner said. Members will be able to form new communities upon request by following a process and guidelines, including a minimum number of people who are interested and willing to participate. This process is still in development. The great news is there is not a limit to how many communities you can join. The more you want to engage with your peers, the better for you and your community.

The ACE and You

As this new member benefit is rolled out to the AALAS community, additional information and training will be provided via social media, emailed newsletters, and webinars. The AALAS staff is available for further training, as needed. The ACE is all about member engagement—making connections, networking with other professionals, and learning from your peers. With the participation of the membership, the ACE will be a key place for the exchange of both information and networking. Mary Kathryn Billings, MBA, CAE is the Volunteer Engagement and Human Resources Manager at AALAS in Memphis, TN. Liz Rozanski, BA is the Communications Coordinator at AALAS in Memphis, TN.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 19


Sara Lundy (left, NC State) and Lauren Buslinger (center, NC State) showing students how to perform a dental prophylaxis on a dog.

Focusing on the Future: Introducing LAS to Future Farmers of America By Courtney Nesline, BS, RLATG, CMAR

The Research Triangle Branch (RTB) of AALAS hosted an outreach effort with a small group from a local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter on December 13, 2018. The group from Heritage High School in Wake Forest, NC had recently taken part in a new course focused on veterinary assistants. RTB developed the relationship with this high school in April of 2018 when branch members attended an educational fair event at the school. At this event, branch members first learned about the upcoming new course and offered to get involved with the goal of educating students about animal care and welfare in the field of laboratory animal science.

Crash Course in LAS

Despite some inclement weather in North Carolina during the early part of the week leading up to the event, nine veterinary assistant students and their teacher were able to attend the first FFA Day at NC State. RTB coordinated with branch members from NC State and UNC Chapel Hill to plan a full day of hands-on activities and conference-style lectures for the group. Before the event, none of the students were familiar with anything related to animal-based research. For the hands-on portion, we kicked off the event by touring the Laboratory Animal Resources Unit at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. The students were able to observe the environmental enrichment program, plus housing and pro-

20 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

cedural spaces for a variety of large animal species. After the tour, the group observed a dental prophylaxis on a laboratory animal colony dog where the NC State veterinary technicians discussed induction, equipment function, surgical pack preparation, and monitoring while performing a dental procedure. The hands-on activities for the morning finished with the students participating in a wet lab that demonstrated making blood and fecal slides. The slides were viewed under microscopes while veterinary technicians and their teacher spent time detailing what they were finding. The lunch and learn portion was packed with amazing speakers. The event kicked off with a general overview of laboratory animal science career opportunities and then moved to a presentation from Emily Weston,

Emily Weston (left, UNC), Lauren Buslinger (center, NC State), and Dr. Nneka George (right, NC State) with students from Heritage High. Dr. George was discussing the process to make blood smears.

UNC Chapel Hill IACUC Training and Compliance Manager. She reviewed the common myths about animal research and shared how heavily regulated the field is.

One Health Medicine

Students from Heritage High learned about making fecal and blood slides.

Dr. Karen Froberg-Fejko, Bio-Serv President, tuned in via video conference to share the importance of happy animals leading to good science for cures for both animals and humans. The students were able to hear Karen’s personal story about why research is so important to her. This included her sharing that her son is a result of in-vitro fertilization and her mother received a new once a day pill medication to treat stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer instead of more invasive traditional chemotherapy, both of these things are possible because of laboratory animal research. These stories drive home why we do what we do every day. Diving further into real translational medicine, Dr. Brian Gilger, NC State College of Veterinary Medicine Professor of Ophthalmology, discussed several dog and rabbit animal models that have naturally occurring dry eye. These animals have helped develop treatments that have completed the long development journey to help humans too.

Career Panel

Lauren Buslinger (NC State) was on hand to assist with the outreach activities.

Dr. Brian Gilger presented information about his research to the students.

packets also included the agenda for the day, donated notepads/pens from Envigo, and a mouse tape measure from Tecniplast. Madison Austin, a student from Heritage High School, shared, “I really enjoyed my day at NC State for many reasons, specifically the career panel because we could ask all kinds of questions to the participants. The people in it answered a lot of my questions and made me realize what I want to do with my life.”

Future Opportunities

RTB plans to continue seeking outreach opportunities with local FFA groups. This specific event utilized 12 volunteers both from within the branch and the greater research community. Immediately after the event was completed, several volunteers were already discussing hosting again and making it even bigger. Heritage High School also invited RTB to their Winter Banquet on December 19, 2018. Emily Butler, 2019 RTB President, and I attended the banquet where we helped recognize the first veterinary assistant class by presenting a certificate and pin for completion. At the banquet, we also networked with students from other high schools. We hope to continue to develop the relationship we have initiated, and maybe even foster new relationships in the future.

Finally, after the lectures and lunch, the day wrapped up with a career panel that Courtney Nesline, BS, RLATG, CMAR is an consisted of a veterinary services manager, a Operations Manager in the Division of Comsurgery and enrichment manager, an assisparative Medicine at the University of North tant operations director, a training coordiCarolina in Chapel Hill, NC. nator, an IACUC compliance manager, a research technician with a lab, and a clinical veterinarian. The students were eager to ask questions about jobs and future career paths since the majority were seniors. After exposure to all of the opportunities within the field, students gained an insight into opportunities they were not aware of before. All students attending were given materials from the AALAS Foundation that included information on the Celebrate the Mouse video contest, LAS careers, educational reRTB members involved with the outreach day pose with students from Heritage High School. Back row, left to right: Dr. Tyler Long (UNC), quirements, and benefits Emily Weston (UNC), Emily Butler (UNC), Lena Perdue (UNC), Lauren of animal research. The Buslinger (NC State), Courtney Nesline (UNC), Nicole Massoud (UNC).

22 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019


Live virtual tours allow for interaction in the moment versus a recorded tour.

Opening the Doors: An Introduction of Live Virtual Animal Facility Tours By Paul Stout, MIAT, HNC and Joanna Moore, PhD, FIAT, RAnTech


ur company is a signatory to the Concordat on Openness, an initiative from Understanding Animal Research (UAR) that over 122 United Kingdom (UK) organizations and funding bodies have joined.

The Concordat has four key commitments an organization needs to agree to (UAR, 2018): 1. We will be clear about when, how, and why we use animals in research. 2. We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals. 3. We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals. 4. We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.

The Concordat is underpinned by an agreement that communication about animal research should provide accurate descriptions of the benefits, harms, and limitations of research; be realistic about the potential outputs of such research, and be open about its impact on animal welfare and the ethical considerations involved. The document also strongly encourages signatories to consider whether they can offer access to their animal research facilities for accredited journalists and media organizations, local politicians, local schools, and patient and community groups. For further information go to the UAR website:

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 23

Tour feedback results revealed the success of the live virtual tour efforts.

The Waiting List

The ethical treatment of animals is of paramount importance to GlaxoSmithKline. We previously welcomed employees finding out more about how animal facility staff house and work with animals in the process of bringing medicines to patients. We offered all employees the opportunity to tour the UK animal facilities. This tour was open to all UK sites and became very popular, with waiting lists of over nine months to participate. Tours are made up predominantly of third-year university students on an internship, and staff not involved directly with in vivo work. Students who may only be at the company for 12 months may miss the experience due to the tours being booked for the duration of their internship. We can only take 10 people on each tour. We needed an alternative option for unit tours to enable us to open the facilities to more people, reduce the risk for laboratory animal allergen exposure to the visitors, and maintain animal facility barrier integrity by not having large numbers of visitors entering the facilities.

A Solution

A live virtual tour (LVT) seemed to be a sensible way forward. We wanted the virtual tour to be live, 24 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

as a live stream would enable us to interact from the meeting room to the unit staff. A live stream ensured an open and transparent method of touring instead of recorded videos. We wanted to be sure we had the freedom to move anywhere in the unit, which was not something the legacy 2.5G network supported due to lack of coverage. Running tours this way would also provide the option to show the facilities at both sites in one tour. We knew the IT infrastructure was planned to be upgraded to a 5G network, which would enable video streaming via Skype. This project would upgrade all buildings, including the animal areas, to 5G. The LVT requirement added an extra cost to the project as we wanted to have Wi-Fi that had a wide enough bandwidth to enable video streaming. The LVT requirement pushed the animal facility Wi-Fi to the top of the list, so we were almost there! We needed to find a device that we could keep in the units and take anywhere without losing picture and sound quality. The iPhone 8 seemed to fit the bill. Our first mini LVT was in May 2018 from the Dog Unit to another GSK site for work experience students, and it was very well received. Starting in September 2018 we have run monthly LVTs, alternating the hosting between four GSK sites and accommodating up to 30 people on each.

The LVT Tour

We initially limited the virtual tours to 30 people to understand the dynamics of running a tour this way and not have a group so large that it reduced interaction with the participants. Additionally, we needed to select meeting rooms with HD LCD screens to provide the best picture quality and experience. Taking photos by attendees is not permitted during a tour, and we inform the in vivo technicians and scientists when the tours will take place to enable them to choose whether to be on camera or not. Each tour lasts approximately 2 hours in duration, which includes a brief overview of the history of the animal facilities, legal framework, animal numbers, species, study refinements to reduce the use of animals, and therapy area our work supports. Then participants go on tours of the rodent, dog, and mini-pig facilities and view demonstrations of training and socialization of the dogs and mini-pigs across two sites from the comfort of the meeting room.

Discussion and Next Steps

Some initial concerns focused on people missing out on aspects of a facility visit by replacing it with a virtual tour. Therefore, we cannot stress the importance of having the live

tour over a recorded one. It enables people to interact with unit staff in the moment and provides the same levels of openness and transparency experienced during an actual tour of the facility. Using this technology, we can now offer one tour covering both sites, enabling us to provide a consistent message to all delegates. For many staff that are not involved with animal research within the organization, they are reassured seeing the standards of care, welfare, and the legal framework that is in place. The more transparent we are, the more trust we will create not only in our staff but also with the public. The next step for us is to expand the concept across our company’s global community, virtually visit other animal facilities, and allow the tours to be viewed from a wider selection of sites. Eventually, we would also like to take the tour into local schools. Paul Stout, MIAT, HNC Biological Sciences, is a Facility Manager at GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage, United Kingdom. Joanna Moore, PhD, FIAT RAnTech is an Investigator and Named Information Officer at GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage, United Kingdom.

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Looking for Opportunities:

Tours of Animal Research Facilities Provide Public Engagement By Sarah Allison, DVM, DACLAM; Paula Clifford, MLA, RLATG, CVT; Paige Ebert, MBA, CMAR, RLATG;Jessica Hendricks, LATG; and Tiffany L. Whitcomb, DVM, DACLAM


nimal research continues to play an essential role in medical progress. An uninformed public results in declining support, which threatens the ability to conduct future health studies. Effective public education about the role of animals in research and the compassionate care they receive requires many supportive voices and a variety of forums. Tours of research institutions are one way to facilitate proactive engagement with the public about why, when, and how animals are involved in research. These tours are being successfully conducted at academic institutions, biopharmaceutical companies, and contract research organizations. The experience for tour providers and participants is almost always positive. Attendees can gain knowledge about why animals are essential in research. They also receive the long-lasting benefit of seeing first-hand, the extent to which the laboratory animal community ensures compassionate care and the best possible environment for the animals. These experiences also provide research and animal care staff the chance to discuss their work proudly. This article provides examples of successful approaches at two academic facilities, a biopharmaceutical company, and a contract research organization. These examples will aid those seeking advice on hosting a tour program.

An Animal Philosophy Class Visits

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign recently began their tour program as a result of an inquiry facilitated by Americans for Medical Progress (AMP). A professor from a private, liberal arts college was seeking an opportunity for students in her animal philosophy class to tour an animal research facility. After determining the institution would host a tour, 26 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

an initial phone call was held which included the attending veterinarian (AV), the facility veterinarian, the professor, and the executive director of AMP. There was agreement that the goal was to highlight the regulations, animal care, training program, and research studies at the institution. Several weeks before the tour, the AV informed the IACUC, Vice Chancellor for Research, and campus public affairs office. The program was framed to treat the visiting students as new principal investigators (PIs) on an IACUC protocol. Before the visit, the students completed online IACUC and Occupational Health and Safety training and reviewed modified IACUC protocols involving rodents. During the visit, veterinarians and IACUC staff presented lectures on veterinary care, regulations, and protocol review. Students received training on rodent biomethodologies and a tour of the animal facility. The facility supervisor presented the same orientation information that a new PI would receive, including demonstrations on handling mice and changing cages. Next, a PI presented information about his oncology research, including how it has benefited humans and companion animals. Throughout the sessions, there was time for discussion, which increased student engagement.

taking an evidence-based approach to teaching young learners. Working with PSBR has been a key factor in the longevity of outreach endeavors at Penn State College of Medicine. PSBR manages the planning logistics with local schools, sponsors lunch, and provides educational materials for students and teachers. Most importantly, they provide expertise in understanding theoretical approaches to teaching this age group of learners.

Students hear about veterinary care for research animals at University of Illinois, Urbana–Champagne.

Student feedback has been positive, especially in response to the discussion sessions. One critique was that students wanted to see more animals. For the following years’ tour, the tour coordinator provided clear expectations about the limited number of animal interactions in order to avoid disruption to research studies. Additionally, the tour was expanded to include an on-campus agricultural facility. This expansion provided the students an opportunity to interact with some of the animals which improved their experience.

High School Students Tour for Science Literacy

In contrast, Penn State University College of Medicine has been conducting tours for students as part of The Student Science Literacy Workshop, an outreach program for high school students, twice annually for over 10 years. Early on, the outreach program consisted of a series of lectures provided by researchers and veterinarians. Since 2009, evidence-based approaches have been incorporated. Some examples include providing opportunities for students to problem-solve, connecting information to experiences and interests, offering interactive components, incorporating technology, and sharing opinions. The day-long program consists of the following: an animal research pre-quiz, an interactive animal care session, an enrichment exercise, an interactive session with a researcher, an animal facility tour, a student-led observational experiment around mouse behavior, a career exploration discussion, and a post-quiz. It is clear from post-test results that refinements made over the years are moving the needle when it comes to students’ understanding of biomedical research. The trainers at Penn State College of Medicine attribute that success to two factors: partnering with the Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research (PSBR), a local biomedical research advocacy organization, and

Internal Outreach Increases Transparency

AbbVie is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on multiple therapeutic areas. The organization has several sites where research animals are housed and provides regular opportunities for education about animal research conducted at their company through tours. The tour program was a result of the company’s evolving internal animal research education efforts. In the past, AbbVie took a very conservative approach about discussing animal studies with non-research personnel. Over time, it became apparent that through transparency, support from internal colleagues could be garnered. In response, a small group of volunteers embarked on a mission to educate fellow employees about the truths of the use of animals in biomedical research. In 2003, education about animal research was mandated for all non-research employees, such as maintenance workers and housekeeping staff needing to enter the animal facilities. In 2007, the company’s research beagle adoption program was expanded. Previously, only those within the animal care and use program were eligible to adopt the dogs. The expanded policy allowed all company employees to take part. This led to more inquiries about the animals and the research studies in which they were involved. In response, members of the comparative medicine staff and the Global Animal Welfare office teamed up to give presentations to many non-research related areas in the company on the significant impact of research animals toward lifesaving treatments and cures. As interest grew, tours were added to the agenda, and today each tour begins with an overview of the program, the animal research facilities, safety aspects, animal care, training, and adoption. Education on the basics of the animal welfare regulations, IACUCs, AAALAC, and euthanasia are also included. The tours are now available weekly through online registration. Because of the success of internal outreach efforts, the program further expanded to include friends and family members of employees. This expansion has been a boost to the morale of the animal care technicians, as well as other research staff.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 27

They now have the opportunity to show those close to them the high-quality work they do in ensuring excellent animal care and the impact they have on the biomedical research environment. This outreach opportunity has now been opened up to the local community, including students and members of any variety of interested clubs.

Outreach Embraces Public Exposure

Contract research organizations (CROs) may seem like a challenging environment to initiate a successful outreach program as they are not accustomed to the same level of public exposure as public institutions or pharmaceutical companies. However, it has been done, and the benefits are substantial. Charles River Laboratories (CRL) has multiple sites that have successfully implemented outreach programs which have strengthened the bonds between research and the local communities. The company provides tours for local teachers, colleges, law enforcement and emergency management agencies, and private practice veterinarians. CRL’s Mattawan site hosts an annual event that invites staff and their families to an open house with exhibits created by each department that help foster external and internal understanding

High school students engaged in an observational exercise involving normal mouse behaviors during a PSBR-sponsored event at Penn State University College of Medicine.


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28 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Illuminated Injection Cones

High school students engaged in a hands-on exploration of animal enrichment items in a PSBR-sponsored event at Penn State University College of Medicine.

about the work conducted throughout the research organization. In addition, presentations are taken on the road by CRL personnel to these audiences. Whether presenters are on the road or touring onsite, the audience is engaged with hands-on activities and two-way conversations. Participants can play with enrichment devices used for various species in the lab, experiment with a Geiger Mueller, get questions answered through trivia and pictures as prompts, and much more. Raising awareness of the work performed at the site has improved public perceptions of animalbased research, served as a tool for recruiting future employees, and in the case of law enforcement and emergency management, helped to prepare for disasters and other needs. These events also highlight career opportunities and provide a way of allowing staff to be creative and show their pride in what they do.

The Benefits of Engagement

While each organization’s tour program is different, the goal remains the same: engagement with those outside of the research community to increase knowledge and appreciation about essential animal research. Some tips to consider when developing a program include: 1.) Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions. Being told no is not always the end, it is merely an opportunity to find a different way; 2.) Start small. Get a group of people that have similar intentions, drive,

and passion. Don’t forget executive support. It is more effective to have someone on your team that shares your goal and influences the business decisions; 3.) Never stop. There is always more to do, improvements to make, and new people to inspire. With determination, compassion, and teamwork you can build an outreach program that fits your institution. Sarah Allison, DVM, DACLAM is the Associate Director in the Division of Animal Resources and a Clinical Associate Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL. Paula Clifford, MLA, RLATG, CVT is the Executive Director of Americans for Medical Progress in Washington, D.C. Paige Ebert, MBA, CMAR, RLATG is Manager of Research Services in Comparative Medicine at AbbVie in North Chicago, IL.

Jessica Hendricks, LATG is Manager of Veterinary Services at Charles River Laboratories in Mattawan, MI.

Tiffany L. Whitcomb, DVM, DACLAM is the Associate Director of Animal Resources Program, Director of the Laboratory Animal Medicine Training Program, and Associate Professor of Comparative Medicine at Penn State University College of Medicine, in Hershey, PA.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 29

Razaka arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York City, his first time in America, with his suitcase and backpack. He was met by the charity organization.

A Leap of Faith An AALAS member and her family open their home and hearts to a Ugandan refugee eager to embrace the American dream. By Theresa CunninghamFaughnan, MS and Liz Rozanski, BA


t started with an announcement in a church bulletin. Theresa Cunningham-Faughnan, Director in the Center for Comparative Physiology at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, took a black marker and circled a description under the “Can You Help?” column in the publication.

The announcement explained that a 28-year-old male legal refugee from Uganda, Africa needed a room in a home. He spoke English and had a college degree. She wrote “What do you think?” next to the announcement and left the bulletin on the kitchen table for her family to see. After family discussions, her husband and their three sons, Kevin, age 19, Sean, age 23, and Daniel, age 26, were open to the opportunity. In their home, there is also a dog and other various small pet animals. “We don’t have a separate living space, so we knew this man would be living right with us in our home and interacting with our family. Sharing our kitchen, bath, and living space would be necessary,” Theresa said. The family met with the charity’s representative. This group helps refugees from around the world come to the United States through legal channels. Many refugees come from Central and South America, but in this situation, the refugee was coming from Africa. The representative explained that this man had lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for 3 years and the family would need to commit to hosting him for a 1-3-month period. After 3 months, the charity’s goal is to have the refugee become self-sufficient with means to support himself. 30 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Razaka’s first job interview was at Walmart. He looked great and landed the job.

Razaka poses with Theresa and Gregory, his American Mum and Dad.

Razaka Arrives

food assistance program, health care application assistance, and access to a job agency and a real estate broker to rent a room if necessary. He received a small grant from the agency for his first 3 months to help him get his life started in the U.S. He also received assistance in applying for a Social Security card, a nondriver’s license ID card, and will apply for green card status during the summer of 2019.

Razaka landed in New York in July 2018, and after a few welcome seminars with the charity, he was taken to Theresa’s home, arriving with his suitcase and a backpack. “This was the first time we met and spoke with him,” Theresa explained. “We agreed to a one-month stay sharing our home, and if it went well, we agreed to have him continue to live with us.” Razaka is from Mbarara, Uganda. His mother died while he was young, and his father was not very involved in the lives of his children. He spent his younger years being cared for by his grandfather and his spouse. Razaka left Uganda in his 20s due to political persecution and an unsafe living environment. He went to a refugee camp in northern Kenya, the desert region of that nation, and lived there for 3 years before arriving in the United States. He holds a BA degree from Kampala University in Uganda and speaks not only English but 4 other African languages as well.

Getting Started

Razaka’s priority was to find full-time work. Theresa’s family helped him write a resume, and he applied to many places in their neighborhood. The first place to call him was Walmart, and she drove him to the interview and walked him into the store. In new dress pants and borrowed shoes and tie, he landed a job within 5 weeks of being in the U.S. The charity that brought him to the U.S. has the main goal of each refugee becoming independent and self-sufficient with a full-time job and the ability to pay for living expenses. They do offer some assistance for up to 6 months if necessary. While the agency did not provide any job training, they did provide access to a food pantry and helped him apply for a

First Impressions

Immigrating to a new country is not easy and the challenges faced can be daunting. Razaka explained that he thought his new town would be smaller, like a village with not a lot of houses and few adjacent towns. Razaka said, “Levittown in Long Island was bigger and had more people than I thought. The U.S. has more diversity of cultures than I thought it would have. There are so many people of various cultures in America.” While the size of the town may have surprised Razaka, a bigger surprise was the warm welcome he received. “Everyone accepted me right away. This home is now family, and I fit in, and everyone loves me, no matter what,” he explained. Theresa explained that while they all had concerns about having a stranger sharing their home and daily lives, the experience went so smoothly that those concerns evaporated very quickly. Theresa shared that Razaka calls her and her husband his American Mum and Dad. “Talking with Razaka about his life in the camp opened our eyes and hearts to the plight of others in the world,” she said. “We take so much for granted in our lives like having a bed to sleep in at night and having food in our refrigerator,” she added. March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 31

Razaka and Theresa’s son Kevin played basketball at a local school court. Theresa’s family bought him a pair of basketball shoes.

Blending Old and New

Learning a new culture provides moments of humor that help lessen the homesickness that comes naturally. Razaka shared that he misses his Ugandan friends and food. “I really miss something called matooke which is a type of banana dish.” Getting used to American food provided some fun moments. Theresa explained that Razaka received a bag of food from the charity organization when he arrived at their home. He kept the food in his room and a few weeks into his stay, he held out a box to her and asked, “Mum, how do you prepare this?” It was a box of Cheerios. So, she told him to put some in a bowl, pour some milk on it, and eat it with a spoon. He said, “That’s it?” Theresa said, “Yes, that’s it!” She added that he was very impressed and has learned to love cereal. “Some things are just so routine for us, we don’t even think about having to teach someone about something like cereal,” Theresa added. His love for basketball, and volleyball have helped him find a place as well. Razaka played basketball with one of her sons at a local school court and joined another son’s beach volleyball team this past summer. “He was one of the best setters on the team,” Theresa shared.

opportunity. “Opportunities are available in the United States regardless of your background, and everyone can succeed or fail. It depends on your attitude,” he said. While he landed his first job at Walmart, Theresa and her family wanted more for him and knew he could grow with the right opportunities. And, Razaka had the desire to make a new life for himself in the U.S. “Razaka volunteered in a vaccine clinic in the refugee camp and enjoyed working in healthcare,” Theresa explained. Once here, he enrolled in an 8-week nursing assistant night course and completed that program in October 2018 while holding down his full-time job at Walmart. He is now enrolled in a second night class for patient care technicians which concluded in January 2019 and has a goal to find employment in a healthcare institution this year. Theresa explained that her family did more than they were asked to do by the charity, but they wanted to help. “We believed in Razaka. He is a warm, wonderful, funny, and bright young man,” she added. Razaka lived with Theresa’s family for 3 months and now rents a room about 6 miles away. They talk and text often and plan to share holidays and other special times together as a family. “He will always be welcome in our home and is now part of the family and extended family, and all our friends enjoy his company,” she explained. “We are very proud of him and what he has accomplished in a short amount of time in this country.” Razaka was eager to build a new life for himself, and he is well on his way with Theresa’s family right by his side. Theresa Cunningham-Faughnan, MS is the Director in the Center for Comparative Physiology at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Heath in Manhasset, NY.

Liz Rozanski, BA is the Communications Coordinator at AALAS in Memphis, TN.

The American Dream

While finding a place to share his love of sports and learning about new cultures and food provided welcome positive moments, Razaka said the best part of being in America was

32 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Razaka went on the Metro NY Branch of AALAS summer boat outing around Manhattan and Lower Manhattan. The Freedom Tower is in background.

Razaka standing in Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

Yoga and cat enthusiasts, Mary and Barbara, prepare for class. Laughter is a side-effect of the cat yoga program.

The “Tail� of the Downward Facing Kitten By Susan Miller, BA, RLAT


fter working as a veterinary technician for 20 years with 12 of those years being in laboratory animal science, I was interested in finding a way to give back to the community. About 6 years ago, I began volunteering at the

Humane Society of Carroll County, Maryland. I used my experience as a registered laboratory animal technician, as well as my behavior certification, to help animals with health or behavioral problems find forever homes. March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 33

Barbara takes a minute to pay attention to one of the cats participating in the yoga class.

Peeking around a participant’s water bottle, one of the yoga cats poses for a quick picture.

Like most volunteers, I started by learning how to clean the animals’ cages and enclosures. As I became more familiar with the Humane Society, the kennel manager asked me to perform routine veterinary technician procedures like blood draws, vaccines, and giving veterinary prescribed medications to the sick animals. I discovered that one of my favorite parts of volunteering was working with the “barn cats” at the shelter. These cats are usually semi-feral and not well-suited for indoor living. Since these cats are a bit more challenging to care for and clean, I often claimed this room as my area of responsibility. I found the challenge interesting as well as satisfying, and I enjoyed helping them get used to people in their space.

enthusiastic and supported the idea. I piloted the program by first trying it with a small group of people familiar with the instructor and myself, and we sought out honest feedback. All the people who attended the first session loved it. Due to popular demand in the community, we began holding a monthly class. We used social media to post the event and the link to buy tickets online. Donations went directly to the Humane Society’s spay and neuter program. We hold our event in our community cat room, which houses free-roaming cats that get along. The cats stay in the room while the yoga participants set up their mats and do a session of yoga. The cats and kittens mingle with everyone, usually purring or climbing on them. I like to call it petting cats and kittens with a little yoga and a whole lot of laughing mixed in. So far, the cat yoga program has been running for a year and has raised more than $1,000 for the shelter and resulted in 9 cats being adopted. It has inspired a similar yoga class at Woofstock, our dog-friendly summer fundraising event. Our yoga instructors thoroughly enjoy it as much as the participants do. I thank the instructors, Brenna Hill, and Jacquie the Yogi, from the Sol Good Cause Yoga Program. Without them, this idea would have never come to fruition. If you’re ever in Carroll County Maryland, stop by the Humane Society with a yoga mat and see the animals waiting for their forever home!

Inspiration Strikes: Cat Yoga

One day while taking a goat yoga class (Yes, it is a thing. Google it!) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I thought about how cool it would be to find a cat yoga place. After looking within a 25-mile radius of where I live, I learned there was nothing like this close. I thought, “Wait, I know yoga instructors, and I volunteer at a shelter. Why not start a program for cat yoga?” I contacted the instructor who teaches yoga at my real job, and she referred me to their Good Cause yoga program. A few interested instructors contacted me, and I explained my plan. They were all very excited and were willing to donate their time. After coordinating the instructors, I spoke with the Humane Society’s executive director, and he was quite

34 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Susan Miller, BA, RLAT is a Veterinary Technician at BNBI in Fort Detrick, MD.

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SOLUTION Environmental Enrichment for Singly Housed Mice By Jennifer Sargent, DVM, MS, DACLAM


ice prefer to be housed as part of a compatible social group. Many mice in the laboratory setting end up singly housed for a variety of reasons. Sometimes aggression between co-housed males prompts single caging. Breeding males may be singly housed when they aren’t in an active breeding group. Certain research designs require single housing in order to monitor an individual’s activities, such as food intake. Environmental enrichment is typically used to improve the welfare of mice that must be singly housed. According to the Guide2, in the absence of other animals, enrichment should be offered, such as positive interaction with the animal care staff and additional enrichment items or addition of a companion animal in the room or housing area.” In response to this suggestion, I conducted a survey to determine what types of additional enrichment are being used at various facilities. Enrichment options come in a bewildering array of choices. Tubes and tunnels. Platforms. Paper or plastic huts. Wire perches. Food treats. Wheels. Crinkled paper. Cotton squares or rolls. In addition to being beneficial for the animals, the enrichment should be practical to obtain, deploy, and sanitize or replace. I sent out a survey via the CompMed listerv with 3 questions: 1. What enrichment items are available for your researchers with singly housed mice at your facility? 2. Which of these enrichment items is the default, or most common, environmental enrichment provided to singly housed mice at your facility? 3. How does this differ from the default, or most common, environmental enrichment provided to the socially housed mice at your facility? The initial survey request was sent on October 30, 2018, and the survey was closed 10 days later.

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Thirty people completed the survey (including the author), representing 30 separate institutions.

What enrichment items are available for your researchers with singly housed mice at your facility?

Please note that most facilities had more than one enrichment item available, so numbers add up to >30. Nesting material was the most common enrichment item available with all 30 respondents offering one or more type of nesting material (Figure 1). The nesting materials available included compressed cotton (n = 21) and paper strips (n= 16). Other nesting material options included rolled paper, tissues, and bedding with incorporated nesting material. Some form of retreat was also available in most respondents’ facilities (n = 25). These included plastic retreats (n = 13) and paper or cardboard retreats (n = 13). Some facilities have both, and some did not specify the hut or shelter type. Huts, shelters, and tubes were all classified as a retreat.

retreat was described by five respondents. Along with nesting material or shelter, an additional item was provided; additional items included food enrichment, chewing enrichment, or multiple types of retreat.

How does this differ from the default, or most common, environmental enrichment provided to the socially housed mice at your facility?

Food treats such as apple pieces, cereal, and sunflower seeds were offered by 6/30 respondents while chewing enrichment such as wood blocks was available at 5/30 facilities. Five respondents replied that wheels (with or without attached retreats) were available. “Trapeze� hanging wire bar enrichment was available in one facility.

Which of these enrichment items is the default, or most common, environmental enrichment provided to singly housed mice at your facility? Nesting material was frequently offered to singly housed mice (Figure 2), either alone (12/30) or in combination with a shelter (10/30) or a shelter and an additional item (5/30). Of the institutions that provided nesting material and a shelter, the combination of a compressed cotton square and a plastic

Many facilities have a policy of providing one extra item in addition to the standard facility enrichment for socially housed mice (16/30, Figure 3). Others responded that options are the same for singly and socially housed mice or that enrichment did not differ (12/30). In some cases, it was unclear whether a respondent meant that singly housed mice received the same enrichment as socially housed mice or whether the enrichment options to choose from were the same as for socially housed mice (even if they received more items from a shared menu). Therefore, these two similar responses were combined in Figure 3. Clearer wording or a different order of questions may have prevented this confusion. These results suggest that nesting material is a popular choice for mouse enrichment, including singly housed mice. Nesting material provides occupational enrichment, opportunities for improved thermoregulation, and complexity to the environment. It is also an enrichment item that mice will work hard to access.1 Among the facilities that provided extra nesting material to singly housed mice, some provided a greater amount of the same nesting material while others provided multiple nesting materials (for example, compressed cotton, and crinkle paper). Another common approach was to provide nesting material and some sort of shelter or retreat. Both extra nesting material and nesting material with a shelter represent practical solutions for additional enrichment, as evidenced by their widespread use. While the importance of nesting material for enrichment is evident, the relative value of additional nesting material versus alternative enrichment items, such as a shelter, is less clear. The survey results helped identify several additional, yet important questions. Of the commonly available environmental enrichment solutions, which do singly housed mice prefer? And, more importantly, can receiving the right enrichment effectively mitigate the stress of living alone? Answers to these questions will help guide future research and bring us closer to finding practical, beneficial enrichment practices for our solo mice. Jennifer Sargent, DVM, MS, DACLAM is a Campus Clinical Veterinarian and Assistant Professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. REFERENCES 1. Hutchinson E, Avery A, VandeWoude S. 2005. Environmental enrichment for laboratory rodents. In: Enrichment Strategies for Laboratory Animals. ILAR J 46: 148–161. 2. Institute for Laboratory Animal Research. 2011. Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals, 8th ed. Washington (DC): National Academies Press.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 37


Insights in husbandry, enrichment, and new techniques and tactics

Fight Club: Using Housing Conditions to Curb Male Cage Aggression

By Chrissy Sherrill, BS and Kylie Kavanagh, DVM, MS, MPH

Male C57BL/6 mice. It’s hard to do studies with them, but the National Institute of Health (NIH) says that we must consider both males and females in our research study designs.3 Those who have worked with males of this strain know how aggressive they can be towards their cage mates, and it makes sense that the second most common cause for early euthanasia is due to aggression. The most common cause for early euthanasia is ulcerative dermatitis, which in most cases can be resolved with a simple toenail trimming.1 Male home cage aggression, however, is not solved so simply. We found this out first-hand at our institution.

First Study: TRAD

An IACUC-approved study began that called for 60 4-wk-old male C57BL/6N mice (Envigo). The mice were non-litter mates and were housed in groups of 5 per cage. Because our laboratory is animal welfare first-focused, we provided various forms of enrichment. Each male cage contained a red igloo, a cotton nesting square, nesting material contained within a pouch, and an intermittent chewing device. We refer to this set of conditions as “traditional” (TRAD), (Figure 1). Our lab staff tended to the mice daily, providing food, handling each animal, and recording any observations. Institutional animal care staff performed all water and cage changes meaning that cages were disturbed up to 3 × per day on cage/water bottle change days. At 6 wk of age (around the time of sexual maturity), we began to see fighting among the males and commenced recording fight incidences as part of our daily observations. A “fight incident” was recorded if the cage occupants were observed

38 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

in a physical altercation or wounds indicative of fighting were found, a separation from the home cage was required, or euthanasia due to fight wounds was necessary. These observations were made for the entire 186-d study duration.

Fight Club

By the study end, we had observed a total of 107 fight incidences, 14 separations (Figure 2) from the home cage, and 4 mice were euthanized due to fight wounds. This meant an average of 1.74 d between each fight incident (Figure 3). Peak fighting occurred at an age of 20 wk for this group, and overall study costs were increased as a result of the loss of study subjects and the extra required cages due to separation. During this timeframe, we poured over academic journals, reading every article we could find regarding male home cage aggression. What we found were mostly anecdotal reports lacking hard data, and several articles contradicted one another. Additionally, there was not much to be found regarding the C57BL/6 mouse strain. Every mouse strain is different; shouldn’t aggression-related articles focus on strains known to be aggressive? Three articles, however, piqued our interest and suggested some real-world techniques we could employ for our next study. As a widely regarded “standard” for housing of mice, Van Loo et al.5 had 5 suggestions to lessen home cage aggression: transfer nesting material (not bedding) to the new cage at cage change, house mice in groups of 3, avoid physical structures, establish groups at a young age, and combine procedures to reduce cage disturbances. Additionally, a disruption of sleep patterns can lead to stress and aggressive behaviors.2 Further-

Figure 2. With TRAD conditions, 14 male mice required separation from their home cage as a direct result of fighting incidences. Conversely, NON-TRAD conditions required no separations.

Figure 1. TRAD cage conditions included a red igloo, nesting material contained within its packaging, a cotton nesting square, and an intermediate chewing device (not photographed).

more, we learned that male mice are stressed by the scent of a human male’s sweat.4 From these articles, we implemented some changes in housing and husbandry conditions for our subsequent IACUC approved protocol. We realized we had a unique opportunity as both studies were identical in design and procedures with the only differences being the study drugs (which were all amalgamated in a Western diet base) and study length.

Second Study: NON-TRAD

The second study, which we referred to as “non-traditional” (NON-TRAD), employed 71 male C57BL/6N mice (Envigo), both litter mates and non-litter mates, at age 3-4 wk. Observations were made throughout the study length of 433 d. Regarding the NON-TRAD housing conditions, we removed the igloo and the outer packaging of the nesting material (Figure 4). The nesting material pouches were simply opened and discarded as mice were previously observed using the pouch as a makeshift hut. We hypothesized that both igloo and pouch were being territorialized and should not be included in the NON-TRAD cages. This is contrary to conventional thinking as the act of pouch destruction is

Figure 3. Fighting incidences were recorded on average of every 1.74 days with TRAD conditions. This period between fight incidences increased almost three times longer to 5.15 days with NON-TRAD conditions.

generally considered positive environmental enrichment. Mice for NON-TRAD were still allotted a cotton nesting square and given a wooden gnawing stick. While Van Loo et al. suggested housing 3 mice per cage, their study did not test a density of 4 mice per cage. Since overall costs are a huge concern for investigators, we chose to house 4 per cage to reduce costs and to fill in this gap in knowledge. To further reduce stress, we moved our observations to 6 a.m. during the week to coincide with the institution’s light cycle (on at 6 a.m., off at 6 p.m.). We also performed all cage and water bottle changes ourselves (a dedicated female research team member) to reduce the amount of cage disturbances to once per day, and roughly half of the “dirty” nest was moved to the clean cage and mixed with the new nesting material. The results were quite astonishing. Mirroring the TRAD conditions, fighting began at 6 wk in age. Unlike TRAD conditions, however, we only observed 84 fight incidences versus 107, but no separations were required (Figure 2) and no mice were euthanized due to fight wounds. This resulted in an average of 5.15 d between fight incidences (Figure 3), which is almost three times longer when compared to the TRAD conditions. Peak fighting occurred around the

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 39

Figure 4. NON-TRAD cage conditions included nesting material removed from its outer packaging, cotton nesting square, and a wooden gnawing stick. Additionally, some of the used nesting material was transferred to the clean cage to provide familiar scents.

same age at 19 wk, and we even saw a cessation of fighting at 24 wk of age with NON-TRAD conditions, but no cessation in fighting was observed with TRAD conditions.

Cage Change Stress

Even with the improved set of conditions and a dedicated research staff member performing all daily observations and husbandry tasks, we observed that cage changes remain a very stressful time for male mice. A large portion (18.69% TRAD, 28.6% NON-TRAD) of fight incidences occurred 24-48 h following cage change. However, no separations were required with NON-TRAD conditions, so we believe that the fighting following cage change was less severe compared to those occurring under TRAD conditions. In other words, they were able to reestablish their hierarchy more quickly and with less aggression. We also performed a cost analysis for the 2 housing conditions. If we were to apply NON-TRAD conditions to the TRAD timeline, we found an overall savings of more than 17.5% (Figure 5), even though NON-TRAD conditions require more cages at study initiation. The savings in costs were due to the elimination of single-housing and no loss of study subjects.


Our laboratory had a unique opportunity with these two studies in which simple changes resulted in a profound effect on male home cage aggression. Most importantly, we did not change their natural behavior: male mice are territorial and will inevitably fight. We did, however, reduce the frequency and severity of fighting. As such, we conclude that the best conditions to ameliorate fighting among male C57BL/6N mice are: house 4 per cage, do not provide igloos or nesting material pouches, and transfer some of the used nesting material to the new/clean cage. Additionally, we noted that there was no evidence of differences between cages containing siblings or unrelated males. There was, however, a possible benefit of having consistent female care personnel to limit unfamiliar scents (including those of human males4) as well as the earlier timing of observations, but we were not able to evaluate these effects independently as the institution’s care

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Figure 5. Study cost analysis showed that NON-TRAD conditions provided an overall savings of >17.5% when compared to TRAD conditions.

staff performed husbandry tasks on weekends. Despite seeming counterintuitive, removing enrichmentrelated structures that can be territorialized will help alleviate aggression issues, as will consistent nesting material scents and lower cage density. If we think like a mouse, though, this makes complete sense. Small changes can make huge impacts on animal welfare and overall costs. Acknowledgments: This work was supported by grants provided by the Department of Defense (DOD, W81XWH015-1-0574) and the NIH (U19AI1067773). We would like to thank Wake Forest School of Medicine IACUC, Wake Forest Animal Resources Personnel Care and Veterinary Staff, and the mice themselves. Chrissy Sherrill, BS, is a Research Laboratory Technician IV and the Kavanagh Laboratory Director at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC.

Kylie Kavanagh, DVM, MS, MPH, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. REFERENCES 1. Adams SC, Garner JP, Felt SA, Geronimo JT, Chu DK. 2016. A “pedi” cures all: toenail trimming and the treatment of ulcerative dermatitis in mice. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0144871. 2. Benedetti F, Fresi F, Maccioni P, Smeraldi E. 2008. Behavioral sensitization to repeated sleep deprivation in a mice model of mania. Behav Brain Res. 187(2):221-227 3. National Institute of Health. [Internet]. 2015. Consideration of sex as a biological variable in NIH-funded research. (NIH NOT-OD-15-102) [Cited 4 January 2019]. Available at: 4. Sorge, R. E., et al. 2014. Olfactory exposure to males, including men, causes stress and related analgesia in rodents. Nat Methods 11: 629. 5. Van Loo PL, Van Zutphen LF, Baumans V. 2003. Male management: Coping with aggression problems in male laboratory mice. Lab Anim 37(4):300-313. https://doi. org/10.1258/002367703322389870

Christine Heyworth, BA, CVT, RLAT (left) is a Lead Husbandry Technician and Dawn Owens, PhD (right) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Principal Investigator. Photo courtesy of Alice Columbia, a Husbandry Technician. All are with the University of Miami, Department of Veterinary Resources, RMSB in Miami, FL.

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Insights in husbandry, enrichment, and new techniques and tactics

Eureka! Enhanced Water Recipe and Enrichment for Oocyte Quality and Embryo Development in the African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis) By Christine Heyworth, BA, CVT, RLAT and Dawn Owens, PhD

Husbandry staff set a goal to develop a health monitoring (HM) program for a Xenopus laevis colony that included not only specific pathogen freedom (SPF), but wellness. Husbandry staff and the principal investigator examined the relationship between species-specific behavior, environmental parameters, and overall research outcomes with “increasing attention toward health as an extrinsic factor affecting study robustness, repeatability, and impact on [frog] welfare.”3 Both oocytes and embryos have increased quality depending on the environment the frog is housed in. While temperature and water quality are the most important factors associated in the production of better oocytes, and in turn, better embryo production,7,4 it was only after extensive research and trial-and-error efforts that a new variable presented itself.

Species-specific Behavior

Xenopus laevis is an air-breathing, aquatic frog originating from marshes, swamps, and ditches in sub-Saharan Africa. Commonly found in debrisriddled, still waterways and sluggish streams, it is unusual to find one without natural cover from predators. Stomach contents reveal prey items that likely fell or were swept into waterways from overhanging vegetation, a place where Xenopus laevis like to hide.6 In a research setting, neither thick mud nor biodegrading vegetation can be used as a substrate. Gravel, marbles, or plastic rocks on the tank floor could be accidentally ingested by the frogs. Research suggests Xenopus laevis, a prey species, suffers stress through poor water quality and lack

of a proper hide-away or refuge opportunity. With this in mind, husbandry staff logged hundreds of enrichment device usage hours specifically noting each animal—inside of tunnel, on top or under lily pad, and/or holding or playing with lily pad (Figure 1). G.M. Burghardt describes play in fishes, frogs, and reptiles as, “repeated, seemingly non-functional behavior differing from more adaptive versions structurally, contextually, or developmentally, and initiated when the animal is in a relaxed, unstimulating, or low stress setting.” Burghardt also offers three types of play: locomotor, social, and object.1,2

Enrichments to Increase Colony Production

After extensive observations, it was increasingly clear that solid enrichments could further enhance the animals’ surroundings and increase the production abilities by yielding viable embryos and useful

Figure 1. Xenopus laevis inside of an enrichment tunnel.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 43

ment, water hardness levels did decrease by about 17.1 ppm, but was shortly resolved, with no recipe change, after a month of being in the system. Remember to acquire institutional approval prior to implementation of any new enrichment device that may affect an animal’s health and wellbeing or an investigator’s scientific outcome. Monitoring for bacteria accumulation enrichment is easily resolved with a simple sterile saline wipe down scheduled on a 2-4 wk basis, depending on colony size. If the system has an exposed in-tank suction valve, there is a simple fix to prevent lily pads from being sucked into system. A PVC endcap with the same diameter as the valve can be modified by cutting two half-circles out leaving one middle bar and capping the valve. This style allows maximum suction while stopping the lily pad from entering the valve (Figure 2 A-B). Husbandry staff members often observe the animals moving the lily pads, jumping on and off, and tugging at them like children with pool floats (Figures 3-5).

Insuring Better Water Quality


While solid enrichments enhanced production abilities, the investigator considered other possible variables to increase colony production. Dr. Dawn Owens developed a water recipe for the insurance of proper water hardness and pH levels that would increase the vitality of the animals.8 This need developed from a frog colony that began producing less than 25% viable embryos per ovulation cycle, which correlated with dropping water hardness levels. During the development of this recipe, a noticeable increase in embryo viability was observed approximately 1 mo after water hardness levels were 188.1 or above, increasing embryo production by more than 100%. With better water quality, Dr. Owens recently decreased her colony of females by 1/3, saving a minimum of 36 frogs from ever having to be used.

Tank Buffer Recipe

B Figure 2 A-B. Tunnel and lily pad from Xenopus Express (A). PVC modified end cap (B).

oocytes. One observation of enrichment being a prime factor affecting embryo production was noted in the male population of this colony. Males have also been scrutinized for their improvement ability by maintaining larger body weights when enrichment is present. Larger body weights in males can yield larger testes sizes, decreased sacrifices for needed sperm in in vitro fertilization experiments, and decreased animal numbers needed. It must be noted that after the application of enrich-

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The tank buffer recipe should yield a circulating buffer with pH of ~7.6 and a hardness reading of ~188.1-205 ppm when 60-90 frogs are housed in a ~160-gal system. Adding new enrichment (1 Xenopus Express lily pad and PVC pipe per tank) can cause a 17.1 ppm fluctuation. Starting DI water is less than 17.1 ppm. If hardness becomes 153.9 (9 drops) or less, embryos have increased frequency of developmental issues. These effects can last for up to a month after hardness levels are restored. Special note: The 1 drop decrease in water hardTANK BUFFER RECIPE




Sodium Chloride (NaCl)

237.5 g

296.9 g

356.25 g

Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3)

73.33 g

91.67 g

110 g

Potassium Chloride (KCl)

11.4 g

14.25 g

17.1 g

Calcium Chloride (CaCl2)

50 g

62.5 g

75 g

Magnesium Sulfate Heptahydrate (MgSO4*7H2O)


87.5 g

105 g

Calcium Sulfate Dihydrate (CaSO4*2H2O)

26.67 g

33.33 g

40 g

ness was specific to the tunnel and lily pad purchased from Xenopus Express and may fluctuate depending on precise enrichment being used. Each drop is equal to 17.1 ppm as described in Hach Water Quality Kits.5


Animal wellness could be observed through play and documented within the new comprehensive health monitoring program for this colony at our institution. The dramatic increase of good embryos due to this enhanced water recipe and the reduction of females being used, combined with the robustness of males due to species-specific enrichment being provided, yielded a greater quality of life for this Xenopus laevis colony.

Figure 3. Xenopus laevis gather beneath a lily pad.

Christine Heyworth, BA, CVT, RLAT is the Lead Husbandry Technician (USDA) at the University of Miami, Department of Veterinary Resources (DVR), RMSB in Miami, FL. Dawn Owens, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for Harbour Ocular Oncology Laboratory, Principal Investigator of the Xenopus laevis colony at the University of Miami, Department of Veterinary Resources (DVR), RMSB in Miami, FL.

Figure 4. Xenopus laevis on top of a lily pad.

REFERENCES 1. Burghardt, G.M. 2014. A brief glimpse at the long evolutionary history of play. Anim. Behav. Cog. 1:90-98 2. Burghardt, G.M., Dinets, V. and Murphy, J.B. 2014. Highly repetitive object play in a cichlid fish (Tropheus duboisi). Ethology. 120 3. Collins J. and Shek, W. 2018. Develop meaningful health monitoring for aquatic facilities. Laboratory Animal Science Professional:22 4. Godfrey, E and Sanders, G. 2004. Effect of water hardness on oocyte quality and embryo development in the African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis). Comprehensive Medicine 54:140-145 5. Hach [Internet]. Product test kits [Cited 23 October 2018]. Available at: 6. Measey, G. and Tinsley, R. 1998. Feral Xenopus laevis in South Wales. Herpetological Journal 8:23-27 7. Ofor, C. and Udeh, H. 2012. Effect of water hardness on fertilisation and hatching success of Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822) and Heterobranchus longifilis Valenciennes, 1840 eggs fertilised with C. gariepinus sperm. Asian Fisheries Science 25:270-277 8. Park, E. and Jo, H.2009. Combined effects of pH, hardness and dissolved organic carbon on acute metal toxicity to Daphnia magna. Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry 15:82-85

Figure 5. Xenopus laevis holding a lily pad.

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Insights in husbandry, enrichment, and new techniques and tactics

Figure 1. An example of a nest score of 5 and a shredding score of 0.

By Andrew MacDuff, LAT; Francisco Loera, ALAT; and Trinka W Adamson, MS, DVM, DACLAM

Use of More Naturalistic Nesting Material Helps Decrease Food Shredding in Mice


hredding of feed (food grinding or food wasting) is a common behavior among certain strains of mice.4 It is seen in both captive and wild rodents and may either be an abnormal behavior or a normal behavior that is simply more noticeable in the cage setting.1 This behavior leads to wasting of feed, dirtier cages, and more frequent cage changing intervals (which requires extra labor/resources and results in increased handling and stress of the mice). One colony at our institution has historically exhibited significant levels of shredding of their pelleted feed. Given its impact on the cage microenvironment (and potentially animal welfare and research results), we wanted to see if we could make any changes to our husbandry practices to decrease the incidence of food wasting in this colony.

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Figure 2. An example of a nest score of 4 and a shredding score of 3.

Our program uses NestletsTM as the standard nesting material in each cage. One previous study attempted to determine if various enrichment items and NestletTM material would decrease food wasting, however they only offered 1 NestletTM and for only 1 d.1 Most of the enrichment items they examined included shelters and/or chew toys. Since subsequent publications have shown that more naturalistic nesting materials (at a volume of at least 6 g – 10 g) are needed for mice to build sufficient nests,2,3 we hypothesized that a variation and/or mixture of different types of nesting materials might decrease the amount of feed being shredded on a regular basis.

Materials and Methods

Thirty-six cages of 2 similar in-house strains (F1 c/c strain and Bx c/c strain) (3-5 mice per cage) were randomly chosen for inclusion in this study. One strain, the F1 c/c strain, was derived by crossing a female MB66 inbred with a C57 BL/6JTyrc-2J male. The other strain, Bx c/c strain, was derived by crossing a female F1 c/c with a C57 BL/6J-Tyrc-2J male. Mice were SPF for all common rodent pathogens, including Helicobacter spp. and mouse norovirus. All mice were housed in Optimice® caging (Animal Care Systems, Inc) on corncob bedding (Bed-o’Cobs ¼”, The Andersons Lab Bedding) with a red staircase shelter (DomiceISLE, Animal Care Systems, Inc.). They were given ad libitum access to automatic reverse osmosis water and rodent chow (LabDiet PicoLab® Rodent Diet 20, 5053). Cages were randomly assigned to 1 of 6 groups each week, attempting to have each cage exposed to each nesting material only once. Each group was given a total of 8g of their assigned nesting material: 1) 2 × 2 in NestletsTM (n = 38, Ancare), 2) 1 × 1 in NestletsTM (n = 37, Ancare), 3) Enrich-n’Nest® (n = 35, The Andersons Lab Bedding), 4) brown crinkled paper (BCP) taken from an EnviroPAK (WF Fisher and Son, Inc) (n = 35), 5) BCP with one 2 × 2 in NestletTM

Figure 3. An example of a nest score of 1 and a shredding score of 4.

(n = 44), and 6) 4 g BCP with 4 g Enrich-n’Nest® (n = 27). Due to a shortage of our Enrich-n’Nest® supply one week, extra cages were assigned to Group 5 for that week alone. The specific nesting material assigned to each cage was maintained in that cage for 7 d. At the end of the week, a picture was taken of the cage to score the nest and the amount of shredding. Nest scores were assigned according to a previous publication,3 and shredding scores were assigned as designated below (Figures 1-3). 0 – no visible shredding 1 – some large chunks of food on the floor or one small spot of shredded feed 2 – some visible shredded feed on the floor of the cage (with or without larger pieces) 3 – moderate shredded feed on the floor 4 – significant shredded feed on the floor requiring cage change Observations of fighting, health reports, flooding events, and extra cage changes were also recorded throughout the 6-wk period. GraphPad Prism 7 was used for all statistical analysis. A Welch’s t-test was performed to look for differences between each group. Statistical significance was set at a P <0.05.


There were no health reports, and no fighting was observed over the 6 wk. Extra cage changes were not necessary; however, some of the shredding was significant by the end of the 7 d. Nesting scores were significantly higher for mice given BCP or any combination including BCP (Figure 4), while shredding scores were significantly lower for mice given BCP alone (Figure 5). March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 47

Figure 4. Nest Score by Enrichment Type: The nest score was highest for groups given BCP with or without another substrate. Φ indicates a significant difference from 2×2 Nestlets.TM * indicates a significant difference from 1×1 NestletsTM . ≠ indicates a significant difference from Enrich-n’Nest®. ∞ indicates a significant difference from BCP alone.

Figure 5. Shredding Score by Enrichment Type: There was significantly lower shredding in cages given BCP when compared to the NestletTM groups and the Enrich-n’Nest® group. Φ indicates a significant difference from 2×2 Nestlets.TM * indicates a significant difference from 1×1 NestletsTM . ≠ indicates a significant difference from Enrich-n’Nest.®


supervisors, for giving us time to complete this study, as well as our fellow technicians, for helping with cage changes when needed. And lastly, we would like to thank Dr. Trinka Adamson, for her mentorship, study design, and editing contributions, and Dr. Richard Ermel, for creating a work environment that promotes these types of activities.

Our data indicate that brown crinkled paper (BCP) with or without a NestletTM or Enrich-n’Nest® allows F1 c/c strain and Bx c/c strain mice to build more complex nests. Brown crinkled paper alone also resulted in a significant decrease in shredding of the 5053 LabDiet® used in this study. Unfortunately, the BCP did not eliminate the food shredding behavior completely; however, this result is consistent with at least one previous publication. Pritchett-Corning and coauthors evaluated the effect of sunflower seeds and a chewing device on shredding behavior, and they used 10g of Enviro-Dri® (the same BCP used in our study) as their standard enrichment in all cages (control and treatment groups). 5 While they found that both sunflower seeds and a chew object resulted in a significant decrease in the production of orts (the food waste seen form the shredding behavior), they did see the shredding behavior in all groups. We would also like to evaluate the use of a chew device with the BCP in our hands (with our cage type, bedding, feed, etc.) to see if the combination would lead to a more dramatic decrease in ort production, however sunflower seeds will most likely not work in our facility due to the large amount of diabetes work done at our institution. Our diabetes groups are very particular regarding the diets used in their studies. Decreasing food shredding behavior maintains a cleaner cage environment and may lead to a decrease in a cage changing frequency, a less stressful experience for the mice, and better research results (especially when measuring food consumption). While future studies should be conducted to confirm our results in other strains, with other types of rodent chow, and other potential variables, these findings are promising and may give facilities a practical way to decrease food wasting in strains prone to that behavior. Given our findings, we would recommend that strains prone to shredding be given BCP as a nesting material with or without other nesting materials. Acknowledgments: We would like to thank Dr. Walter Tsark, the Director of our COH BRI Transgenic Animal Program, as well as his staff, Amber Lundin and Marisa McDonald, for letting us use his mouse colony for this project. We would also like to thank our 48 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Andrew MacDuff, LAT is a Senior Research Support Specialist (Animal Care) with the Center for Comparative Medicine at City of Hope Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, CA. Francisco Loera, ALAT is a Research Support Technician (Animal Breeding) with the Center for Comparative Medicine at City of Hope Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, CA. Trinka W. Adamson, MS, DVM, DACLAM is an Associate Research Professor and the Associate Director of the Center for Comparative Medicine at the City of Hope Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, CA.

REFERENCES 1. Cameron KM, Speakman JR. 2010. The extent and function of ‘food grinding’ in the laboratory mouse (Mus musculus). Lab Anim 44:298-304. 2. Gaskill BN, Gordon CJ, Pajor EA, Lucas JR, Davis JK, Garner JP. 2012. Heat or insulation: behavioral titration of mouse preference for warmth or access to a nest. PLoS ONE 7(3):e32799 3. Hess SE, Rohr S, Dufour BD, Gaskill BN, Pajor EA, Garner JP. 2008. Home improvement: C57BL/6J mice given more naturalistic nesting materials build better nests. J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci 47(6):25-31. 4. Pawel K, Carter PA, Swallow JG, Garland T. 2003. Food wasting by house mice: variation among individuals, families, and genetic lines. Physiol Behav 80:375-383. 5. Pritchett-Corning KR, Keefe R, Garner JP, Gaskill BN. 2013. Can seeds help mice with the daily grind? Lab Anim 47(4):312-315. 6. Tang SE, Silva FJ, Tsark WMK, Mann JR. 2002. A cre/ loxP-deleter transgenic line in mouse strain 129S1/SvlmJ. Genesis 32:199-202.


Insights in husbandry, enrichment, and new techniques and tactics

The Cat Conundrum:

Improving Welfare and Reducing Stress for Cats and their Handlers through Primary Enclosure Refinement By Angela Bennett, ALAT and Michelle Newell, DVM

Every species presents unique challenges for handling and care in the laboratory environment, but perhaps none more so than the cat. Cats are independent and do not require humans to thrive in a natural environment, and they tend to develop large, solitary territories, even in a home. In the lab, social housing is a challenge due to the proximity of conspecifics made necessary by the relatively small size of typical standard caging. Handling is a challenge, as human injury due to bites and scratches often result when the cat feels cornered, another unavoidable situation with standard tiered caging. Cats are particularly sensitive to their macroenvironment. In the laboratory, it’s often cooler, brighter, and louder than cats prefer,

Figure 1. Example of European-style nonhuman primate pens are large, open boxes constructed of stainless-steel grated sides, raised slatted flooring, and a stainless-steel grated roof.

which may result in chronic stress. Chronic stress is not only a welfare issue by itself, but it can also decrease acclimation success making handling even more stressful. The more stressed the cats become during handling, the more stressed the technicians are when handling cats. This can result in a cycle of anxiety that only increases the potential for aggression and injury, adding up to an increased probability of poor cat and human welfare in the laboratory. In exploring what we could do to reverse this cycle in our facility, we decided to focus on what we perceived as the primary source of chronic stress in our cats: their environment. Specifically, we thought we could improve their overall welfare through cage design.

Figure 2. Plastic milk crates with artificial turf on the resting surface were attached to the walls of the pen at varying heights, allowing for multiple vertical jumping and perching opportunities during the trial.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 49

Materials and Methods

The vendor supplying our cats utilizes an open space approach, group housing large numbers of cats free in a room. Due to the design of our facility, specifically, the lack of anterooms and procedure rooms, some form of primary enclosure within the room is required. One option stood out as an ideal way to incorporate the idea of an open room structure into a primary enclosure: European style nonhuman primate pens (EU pens). Our current standard feline caging is a tiered stainless-steel structure with two levels of three cages, grated plastic flooring, and removable plastic dividers to allow for social housing. Each cage has 5 sq ft of floor space and is 30.5 in tall. Each cage has a stainless-steel hutch mounted in the back, which can be raised and lowered as needed, providing hiding and perching opportunities. Uncovered litter pans are placed on the floor, and a water bottle is hung on the front of the cage in addition to the automatic watering system. While these standards meet USDA requirements for space, the caging significantly limits the animals’ ability to use distance as a stress reliever or to find alternate resources from particularly dominant cohorts. Vertical spaces are quite limited in typical caging, which impacts cats’ natural drive to jump, and while there is one hutch available per cat, hiding opportunities are also limited, which can lead to social stress and aggression. In contrast, European style nonhuman primate pens are large, open boxes constructed of stainless-steel grated sides, raised slatted flooring, and a stainless-steel grated roof (Figure 1). Floor space in each pen measures 45.5 sq ft with an internal height of 81 in. While there are no permanent, internal structures in these cages, the grated sides and ceiling allow for the attachment of almost any device. For our trial, plastic milk crates with artificial turf on the resting surface were attached

to the walls of the pen at varying heights, allowing for multiple vertical jumping and perching opportunities (Figure 2). By placing the milk crates in various orientations, hiding opportunities were also provided with the same device (Figure 1). The existing slatted floors were modified as the textured surface could be uncomfortable on the cats’ feet and the slats were widely spaced making ambulation difficult and potentially creating an escape or entrapment opportunity for smaller cats. In addition, the original floors provided little heat support in the cooler lab environment. To modify the pens perforated rubber mats were cut to size and attached to the slatted floor with large zip ties. The open litter pans were replaced with covered litter boxes to ensure that more litter remained in the pans, thereby keeping the floors cleaner. With this set-up, sanitization proved comparable between the two caging types. The tops of cat carriers were also distributed on the bottom of the pen allowing for additional hiding opportunities. Water bottles and food hoppers were attached inside the pen in a minimum of two locations each to prevent resource guarding. Other resources, such as lattice balls were provided, as were scratching materials and hanging enrichment items.


Improvements in cat activity level after transfer to the pen style caging were evident within 24 h. After initially hiding under the carrier lids, the cats were observed climbing the pen walls, jumping up to the milk crates, jumping across from crate to crate (Figure 3), and sleeping on both the crates and the floor mats. New social groups were formed upon placement into the pens. Cats were observed using all available space in the pen, including hiding structures and vertical spaces, to distance themselves from new partners while a social hierarchy was determined. Although some conflict was observed, space and physical devices provided inside the pen allowed the cats to create a new social structure without injury. One of our primary goals was also to improve the experience of the technician. Multiple technicians were interviewed informally after participating in handling cats within the pens. All reported an increased ability to capture the cats and that they observed less aggression from the cats during capture. They also appreciated that the ability to approach the cats within the pen versus having to corner the cat in the back of a standard cage. This approach allowed the technicians to move more slowly and gave the cat the chance to cooperate with handling (Figure 4). The overall behavior of the cats also appeared to change. As they began to interact with their new environment and were able to express more species-typical behaviors, they also appeared to become more confident in their interactions with humans. Cats were more willing to come

Figure 3. The cats were observed climbing the pen walls, jumping up to the milk crates, jumping across from crate to crate, and sleeping on both the crates and the floor mats.

50 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Figure 4. Technicians appreciated the ability to approach the cats within the pen versus having to reach for the cat in the back of a standard cage. This approach allowed the technicians to move more slowly and gave the cat the chance to cooperate with handling.

to the front of the cage and investigate observers and were less likely to hide from both strange and familiar technicians. The technicians found the cats to be much more interested in accepting food rewards and engaging in play activities. Because the structure of the pen allowed technicians to sit on the floor with the animals in their home environment and allow the cats to approach the technicians on their terms, habituation activities for shy or nervous cats were more successful. Once proof of concept was established with the in-house colony, a shipment of 120 adult cats was received into the facility and placed directly into the EU pens. Anecdotally, technicians reported that receipt procedures were greatly improved using the pens. Previously, carriers were placed in the standard caging, and the cats allowed time to exit on their own. Since the hutches had to be raised to fit the carriers into the cages, there was no inviting location to entice the cats to exit. Frequently, cats had to be manually removed from the carriers, which caused stress to the animals and often resulted in injuries to the technicians. The pens proved a more inviting environment to the cats; only 4 cats of 120 did not exit of their own accord within 15 min. Most of the newly arrived animals immediately began exploring their new environment, a stark contrast to the prolonged hiding phase observed after receipt into standard caging.


Since transitioning the majority of our cat population into EU pens, human injuries during feline handling activities have declined. Indirectly, the willingness of the technicians to participate in socialization and acclimation of cats, and the enjoyment they experience while doing so, has resulted in more effective positive personal interactions and lower stress for the cats. The cats themselves appear more comfortable in their environment. They fully use the pen for a variety of species-typical behaviors including jumping, climbing, perching, playing, positive social interactions, and scent marking. Due to increased animal welfare, reduction in human injuries, increased technician job satisfaction, and lack of impact on study design and business needs, this pen-style caging will be recommended as standard housing for cats at our facility in the future. This refinement project was performed on an IACUC approved training protocol. Angela Bennett, ALAT is a Behavioral Associate with Veterinary Services for Charles River in Mattawan, MI. Michelle Newell, DVM is a Principal Veterinarian for Charles River in Mattawan, MI.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 51


Insights in husbandry, enrichment, and new techniques and tactics

When to Wean?: A Visual Guide to Mouse Pup Growth P14 to P28 By Erica Brogan, RALAT, CVT; Sharron Kirchain, DVM, MBA, DACLAM; and Amber Hoggatt, DVM, DACLAM

Laboratory mouse pups are commonly weaned between postnatal day 21–28.1,2 Utilization of an exact wean date post-partum is a concrete metric for mouse colony management, but variation can result such as developmental differences among genetically modified strains, personnel differences in assessing pup developmental stage, different breeding schemes which can lead to early weaning due to overcrowding, and lack of precision estimating birthdate in nontimed pregnancies. Clinical and operational outcomes of weaning pups too young may include failure to thrive, unsuitability for study assignment, undue distress on the pups, and extensive time and resource commitment to monitoring and supportive care by veterinary staff. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) we frequently onboard new investigators and animal care technicians working with rodents for the first time. Both roles may be tasked with weaning

pups due to overcrowding or colony management, which can prove challenging if there is no visual frame of reference. There may be instances in which the pups are inadvertently weaned too early especially if a researcher is unfamiliar with neonatal mouse growth and development. Reports of small weanlings are triaged by the veterinary staff to assure animal welfare standards. If there are multiple cases from the same user, a veterinarian or veterinary technician investigates to find the root cause which is usually categorized as: 1. an emergency separation for housing density compliance due to post-partum estrus or harem breeding, 2. genetically small pups, or 3. research technicians who have weaned the pups too early due to a misunderstanding when it is appropriate to wean.

Figure 1. The When to Wean vivarium sign.

52 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Figure 2. A 21-d-old pup in a natural posture.

As a teaching hospital, we have taken these opportunities as educational moments to train researchers and increase their understanding of mouse biology to improve welfare outcomes as the investigators do not intentionally put their mice in difficult situations. In addition to helping the investigator understand, it creates an environment where they can feel comfortable reaching out for help. We realized that a visual approach would be valuable to aid the teaching process and relied heavily on the Jackson Laboratory Jax® mice pups appearance by age poster3 to train researchers and technicians. The veterinary staff continued to regularly see cases of small weanlings, typically between days 14 and 21, despite efforts to present the poster and have it readily available in housing rooms. We hypothesized this could be in part be due to lack of visual references for pups between 14 and 28 d. To help bridge the gap we made an in-house poster of pup growth from day 14 to day 28 (Figure 1).


Figure 3. A 21-d-old pup in a profile view.

All work was conducted under an animal use protocol approved by the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, an AAALAC-accredited institution. Point-of-use visual representation is a valuable tool to help vivarium personnel and researchers identify mouse pup age and developmental stage. However, resources currently available are either too cumbersome at the point-of-use (written descriptions) or incomplete for the time frame desired (covering only up to 14 d of age). An average size male pup (Figure 2-3) was chosen from a litter of C57BL/6J mice, and this same pup was photographed daily from age 14 d to 28 d. A smartphone camera was used to capture photos of the pup which was placed on a sterile, disposable napkin at approximately

the same time each day. A ruler was used to give reference to the size of the pups. Photos were calibrated and sized on a vivarium poster to approximately equal scale with each other using the ruler markings. The pups were placed naturally by the ruler so that the appearance could be assessed based on natural posture rather than merely by length measurements. This was done because the investigator would be looking at the pups without a ruler for guidance normally. All photos where the pup was curled up or stretched out were not used.


We created a visual guide poster depicting a mouse pup from age P14 to P28. The poster is now used in the vivarium orientation and training program at our institution (Figure 4). Positive outcomes from the poster include: • lower morbidity and mortality • fewer delays to study start • less veterinary intervention required • less time spent by personnel placing wet food and water on the cage floor • improved animal welfare and compliance Overall the program observed a 50% decrease in total pup mortality in 2018 despite stable to increasing rodent populations. This decrease in mortality is attributed to a program-wide education and retraining initiative which included: seminars, concerted efforts to decrease environmental perturbations (such as not entering during the dark cycle, gentle handling of cages, etc.), new rodent separation guidelines and operating procedures, and creation of the mouse pup growth vivarium poster.


We received positive feedback from research and animal husbandry staff relating to their ability to judge weanling age after implementing the new training tool (Figure 5). Both animal care and researcher staff have stated

Figure 4. The point of use visual cue.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 53

Figure 5. Researchers using the visual cue.

that the visual pictures are extremely valuable tools. Animal care can reference the poster when weaning overdue cages and have found the poster guide helpful. Our research staff has also been seen using the poster to help guide them. The ruler scale has been frequently noted to be useful and shows a gradual increase in size as the pup grows up. Rulers are available in the facility for investigators to use if they wish. Personnel new to colony management often find assessing mouse pup age and weaning suitability challenging. This scaled, photographic teaching tool provides a universal standard that researchers and vivarium staff can comprehend even when English is not their first language. Animal care and research staff are more knowledgeable in the normal progression of weanling growth and able to make better decisions on the appropriate day to wean mice with less need for veterinary guidance. Acknowledgments: We would like to thank Colleen Carmody from Dr. Ann Zavacki’s laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for allowing us to photograph her pups for this project.

Erica Brogan, RALAT, CVT is a Senior Veterinary Technician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. 54 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Sharron Kirchain, DVM, MBA, DACLAM is the Associate Veterinary Director at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Amber Hoggatt, DVM, DACLAM is the Director and Attending Veterinarian at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

REFERENCES 1. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician Training Manual, Chapter 18: Mice. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, Memphis, TN. 2018. 2. Richter SH. Kastner N, Loddenkemper DH, Kaiser S, Sachser N. 2016. A time to wean? Impact of weaning age on anxiety-like behavior and stability of behavioral traits in full adulthood. PLoS One 11 (12): e0167652. 3. The Jackson Laboratory. [Internet]. Jax® mice pups appearance by age. [Cited 17 January 2019]. Available at: manuals-posters-and-guides/jmcrs-poster-request/posterpup-appearance-by-age



UPCOMING Establishing and Maintaining an Effective Ergonomics Program

Mar 21, 2019

12:00-1:30 pm CT

Right Numbers for Animal Protocols

Apr 24, 2019

12:00-1:30 pm CT

Bioimaging Part I: Imaging Scientific Strategy

May 22, 2019

12:00-1:30 pm CT

Bioimaging Part II: Equipment, Facilities, and Workflows

June 19, 2019

12:00-1:30 pm CT


Reproducibility and Science

Addressing Breeding Problems in Mice Assessing and Minimizing Pain and Distress in the Euthanasia of the Rat Creating Mouse Models Through Transgenic Technologies How to Improve Rat Welfare by Understanding Behavior Humane Endpoints for Mice Mouse Anesthesia: Using Science to Improve the Process Mouse Colony & Breeding Management Webinar Recording Bundle Mouse Colony Management Fundamentals Mouse Euthanasia Rat Tickling: A Technique for Eliciting Positive Affect Rescue Strategies for Lines of Genetically Engineered Mice Viral Infections of Rats

Care about the Animals: Care About the Science Circadian Biology and Animal Facility Lighting: Emerging Technologies Construction Noise and Vibration: Best Practices for Minimizing Impacts on Animals, Ongoing Research Studies, and Relationships with Scientists Metabolic Imaging Studies: Physiological Effects of Animal Handling and Housing Microbiota of Laboratory Animals: An Emerging Frontier Noise and Vibration in the Vivarium Reproducibility of Animal Models The Role of Incident Reporting in Responsible Science Strategies for Gnotobiotics Program Startup and Development

Non-Rodent Species Behavioral Management of Nonhuman Primates in Research Bringing Sheep and Goats into Your Research Program Building a Zebrafish health Monitoring Program Canine Communication: Let’s Speak the Same Language Feline Communication: Let’s Speak the Same Language Poultry: An Emerging Research Model Sheep and Goats: Anesthesia and Analgesia Strategies for Social Housing of Rabbits

Human-Animal Bond The Laboratory Animal-Human Bond: Numbers, Names, and Games

Pain and Distress Evidence-Based Pain Management

IACUC Review Animal Protocols: Strategy for an Effective IACUC Review Category E Studies

Management Connecting Facility Design to Operations: Role of the Laboratory Animal Professional Getting More Done in the Vivarium for Less Money

Motivational Personal Accountability: YOU are the One in Charge! Voice of One: Speaking about Animal Research

Occupational Health and Safety Compassion Fatigue and Compassion Satisfaction in the Workplace Easy Ergonomic Tactics Effective Training Strategies in Animal Biosafety Strategies for Developing an Institutional Program to Manage Compassion Fatigue Effective Training Strategies in Animal Biosafety

American Association for Laboratory Animal Science

9190 Crestwyn Hills Drive | Memphis, TN 38125-8538 | Phone: 901-754-8620 | Fax: 901-753-0046 | E-mail: | Web:


Insights in husbandry, enrichment, and new techniques and tactics



Figure 1 A-B. Water bottle baskets with autoclavable shrouds.

Covering Our Bases

By Evan M. Hutto MS, LATG and Dean Blake BS, LATG


ecently our institution’s division of animal resources (DAR) took on a new health status of mice that are specific pathogen free (SPF) on a global health surveillance profile, this meant that this colony is free of any murine diseases that it could be tested for. This new addition of mice required us to take every precaution in biosecurity regarding the of the housing and handling these animals. These barrier animals were housed in Allentown NexGen IVC cages with external water bottles, that have been autoclaved prior to use. In addition, the water bottles were covered with an autoclavable elastic cover that shrouds the bottles as they sit in the water bottle baskets as seen in Figure 1 A-B. Before being put into use, the bottles were uncovered while not under the confines of a biological safety cabinet and sipper tube that entered the cage was wiped with a disinfectant wipe and the bottle is docked on the cage. With the arrival of this new health status of mice, we decided to add an extra layer of protection to the bottles as they sat in the rooms before use. To do this we made sheaths out of tin foil for each sipper tube before autoclaving, as seen in Figure 2. The bottles were then shrouded and autoclaved for use as done previously. Users would then remove the cover on the bottle basket and remove the foil from the bottles before placing them in the cages. This method allowed for the bottles to be more thoroughly covered as the shroud was not all encompassing of the basket, and

56 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

it protected all bottles when the shroud was removed which was beneficial in cases where not all bottles were being used at one time. This additional step while providing relief to the researchers’ concerns of protecting their strains, caused a sense of dread among our cage wash staff due to the increased time spent preparing. We decided to measure the amount of time the it took for the cage wash staff to create a full basket (40 bottles) of these new foil waters to compare to our original method. The original method took us 3 min per basket to prepare, whereas this new method took 19 min per baskets. This meant 8 baskets of water (which was our normal weekly amount) now took 2.5 h as opposed to 24 min per week. As we extrapolated over a month, we realized we were spending 10 h preparing these waters compared to what previously took 1 hand 36 min. This can be seen in Table 1. Time Dedicated to the Different Methods or Preparing Waters Time per Basket (min)

Weekly Time (min)

Monthly Time (min)

Regular Water (No Sheath)



96 (1.6 h)

Foiled Waters


152 (2.53 h)

608 (10.1 h)

A Figure 2. Sipper tube with foil sheath.



D Figure 3 A-D. From top to bottom: 7 mL scintillation vial (A), 5 mL centrifuge tube (B), 5 mL (12 × 75 mm) polystyrene test tube (C), 11 mL (16 × 75 mm) polypropylene test tube (D top), and a 5 mL (12 × 75 mm) polypropylene test tube (D bottom).

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 57

Figure 4. The water bottles and sheaths after autoclaving. The top left bottle is the 11 mL polypropylene tube, top right is the 7 mL scintillation vial, bottom right is the 5 mL centrifuge tube and the bottom left is the 5 mL polystyrene test tube.

It became obviously apparent that we needed to revise our methods to find a more efficient process while still protecting the sterile integrity of the water bottles. We began looking to see if any companies made sheaths specifically designed for the sipper tubes. We were not able to find anything currently on the market, so we decided to investigate having a company fabricate them for us. We received a quote indicating it would cost $5.95 per sipper tube which we decided would be too costly to pursue. Based on this we decided to reexamine what product was already on the market. After some brainstorming we turned our attention to materials that were already being used in the labs (test tubes, centrifuge tubes, and scintillation vials). 58 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

Figure 5. Water can be seen trapped in between the sipper tube and the sheath near the cap of the bottle.

Materials and Methods

The first step in our search was to find an affordable and re-usable replacement for the foil sheaths. We found 5 different samples of possible options that can be seen in Figure 3 and decided to test these products. The first option was a 7 mL glass scintillation vial. The second option used was a 5 mL centrifuge tube. The vial and centrifuge tubes did not completely cover the sipper tube, but we proceeded with the test knowing we could purchase it in a larger size if all other testing passed. The other three options were different versions of test tubes. One was a 5 mL (12 Ă— 75 mm) polystyrene test tube. The other 2 were polypropylene test tubes of different sizes. One was

5mL (12 × 75 mm) and the other was larger size of 11 mL (16 × 75 mm). Each sample was placed on the bottle’s sipper tube and then autoclaved at a temperature of 121 C for 15 min. Inside each bottle we placed a temperature indicator to ensure the sheaths would not impede the steam from penetrating into the bottle and heating the water. On each sheath we placed autoclave temperature tape as well to ensure the correct temperature was reached in the chamber. During the testing we were looking to see that the sheaths would not blow off from the sipper tubes, the sheaths would not melt, and that the bottle would still reach the correct sterilization temperature.


The results from our test showed that all sheaths were suitable options except for the polystyrene test tube, which melted as seen in Figure 4. All the other items passed the criteria; completing the autoclave cycle without any damage from the heat, remaining on the sipper tubes, and allowing the temperature indicators to pass. Based on this, we began to examine the pros and cons of each sheath to decide which to move forward with. We concluded that the scintillation glass vial could possibly be damaged and create a hazard, so we removed that as an option. The centrifuge tube came with the cap attached that would serve no purpose towards our process, so we removed that as an option as well. This left us with polypropylene test tubes, which came in 2 sizes (5 mL and 11 mL). After further evaluation, we decided that the 5 mL had a narrow diameter which caused water to be trapped inside the sheath (Figure 5), which we felt could possibly promote bacteria growth). We decided that the 11 mL, with a greater diameter, would fit our needs best (Figure 6). The final step was to assess the new process for cost efficiency and timeliness to see if it would be more effective than the current foil process. We tested the method and found that we can complete a full basket in 4.5 min. Therefore we have created a new process that still satisfies the researchers and yet only added 1.5 min to our process as opposed to 16 min we were witnessing from the foil process. That is a reduction from 10 h a month on preparing these bottles alone to now only 2.4 h a month (Table 2). Time per Basket (min)

Weekly Time 8 Baskets(min)

Time per Month (min)

Regular Water (No Sheath)



96 (1.6 h)

Foiled Waters


152 (2.53 h)

608 (10.1 h)

Test Tube Sheath



144 (2.4 h)

The cost of the tubes is only $26.41 for 1,000 tubes which breaks down to $0.02 per tube. Since these tubes are reusable this product is sustainable from a cost perspective. We have since began this new process and have already witnessed the benefits to our program. Evan M. Hutto, MS, RLATG is an Animal Facility Supervisor for the Division of Animal Resources at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. Dean A. Blake BS, RLATG is the Associate Director for the Division of Animal Resources at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.

Figure 6. The final product featured the greater diameter of the 11 mL test tube.

March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 59



TO SUBMIT A NOMINATION c Nominees and nominators for all awards must be current national members of AALAS as of January 1 of the nominating year. c Download the appropriate nomination form at c Fill out the requested information and save the word document to your computer. c Email the completed form as an attachment to c Nomination forms must be submitted to the AALAS office by email by April 3.

REQUIREMENTS After a completed nomination form is received, AALAS staff will contact each nominee to secure the following documents:

• Curriculum vitae or resume

• 3 letters of support

• Any additional information as requested and outlined on the judge's evaluation sheet for each award

All supporting documents must be submitted to the AALAS office by April 15. Awards cannot be given posthumously. If you have questions about the nomination or selection processes, feel free to contact AALAS.

NOMINATION FORMS • Nathan R. Brewer Lifetime Achievement Award Charles A. Griffin Award Joseph J. Garvey Management Award Pravin N. Bhatt Scientific Investigator Award George R. Collins Education and Training Award Technician of the Year Award


AALAS Plans 2019 Laboratory Animal Facility Compensation Survey By Pam Grabeel, MA Am I or is our staff paid competitively? Have employment benefits changed? What is a fair salary range for a position in institutions of comparable size and location? You may think of these questions and more as you budget salaries or conduct performance reviews. Up-to-date compensation information helps ensure that the salaries you offer are fair to the individual and comparable with the field. AALAS is conducting a new Laboratory Animal Facility Compensation Survey in early 2019. The results of the survey will allow an institution to compare its compensation levels and benefits with its peers easily. The laboratory animal science field is a continually evolving field and one that reflects the job diversity required for laboratory animal research. Thus, it is essential to evaluate the salaries and benefits for staff on a regular basis.

The survey highlights compensation levels and organizational practices for 18 laboratory animal facility-related positions throughout the United States. Who conducts this survey? Industry Insights conducts this survey on behalf of AALAS. The data will be compiled, and a comprehensive final report created with a summary of key findings and detailed data tables. Invitations to participate have been sent to AALAS member institutions and companies. Your institution’s input is important because the more participation, the better the data. If you are not sure that your institution or company received the invitation, please contact to request more information. Pam Grabeel, MA is the Education Manager in the Education and Scientific Affairs department at AALAS in Memphis, TN. March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 61


AALAS Foundation Establishes Memorial Wall of Honor By Vicki Campbell, BA

The AALAS Foundation established a virtual Memorial Wall of Honor to recognize, share, and preserve the memory of individuals who have made lasting contributions to the laboratory animal science community and who supported the AALAS Foundation during their lifetime. Jerry Shapiro was the first individual to be honored on the Memorial Wall of Honor after his death in 2017. Since that time, three additional individuals have been added to the Memorial Wall of Honor – Greg Boivin, John Duktig, and Michael A. Coiro, Sr.

AALAS Foundation Executive Director, Dr. Ann Turner, presenting Memorial Wall of Honor award to Jill Thompson and John Coiro, daughter and son of Memorial Wall of Honor honoree, Michael A. Coiro, Sr.

Visit the AALAS Foundation’s website at AF-Memorial-Wall for more information about the Memorial Wall of Honor and to read the bios of these outstanding individuals whose lives will long be remembered for their dedication and support of laboratory animal science. Vicki Campbell, BA is the AALAS Foundation Administrator at the AALAS Foundation in Memphis, TN.

AALAS Foundation Executive Director, Dr. Ann Turner, presenting Memorial Wall of Honor award to Mark Sharpless, AALAS District 8 Board of Trustee, on behalf of Memorial Wall of Honor honoree, John Duktig.

Mark Sharpless, AALAS District 8 Trustee, presenting Memorial Wall of Honor award to Karen Duktig, widow of John Duktig.

ILAM 2019 Scholarship Winners Announced By Sarah Maxwell, BS

The winners of the 2019 ILAM scholarships have been selected. Returning ILAM student, Sebastian Valenzuela has been awarded the Level 2 scholarship, funded by LAMA. In addition, three Level 1 scholarships have been awarded. The recipients are Oscar Sanchez (Ancare Scholarship); Holly Goold and Stephanie Bybee (LAMA Scholarships). Every year ILAM meets in Memphis to provide instruction in management concepts tailored for laboratory animal science personnel. But ILAM is much more than that. ILAM is a fully immersive, intensive management and leadership training program. Class topics vary from year to year

62 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

depending on the needs of the industry and student requests. AALAS thanks Ancare and LAMA for their support of the ILAM scholarship program. Are you interested in attending ILAM in 2020? The scholarship window will open June 1, 2019, with a deadline to submit of September 1, 2019. Visit to learn more. Sarah Maxwell, BS is the Events Coordinator in the Meetings and Financial Services Department at AALAS in Memphis, TN.

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March 2019 Laboratory Animal Science Professional 63



When Tanya and her husband rescued Sam last November, he was suffering from kennel cough. Tanya shared that treating that condition was a learning experience for her, but this 1-year-old pointer/Australian cattle dog mix has been well worth it. When Sam first joined their family, Tanya noted he was scared and timid. He has become more comfortable in his new home. He loves to chew on bones and dive face first into his bed and then roll around on top of it. He also has a stubborn streak. Sam being a bit stubborn can sometimes come into play when Tanya makes him sit or go to his crate. Sam may think Tanya is a bit bossy, but she does give him lots of love. Sam has become such a sweet dog in the last few months and loves all of the attention!

Two of a Kind

Leo, pictured left, and Sheldon, pictured right, are both 6-year old domestic short hairs who bring love, laughter, and entertainment to their service human, Melissa. Melissa is an animal care technician at a biomedical research facility. Leo has a laid-back personality and is very vocal. He frequently vocalizes when spoken to, as if engaging in conversation. He loves to be brushed and will, if you cease brushing, reach with his paw to touch the brush as if to say, “Don’t stop!” Sheldon’s favorite pastime is batting around bottle caps on the hardwood floor. He will return the bottle cap to Melissa for a game of fetch. These two felines are inseparable, and they have very loving, social personalities.

Sweet Emma

A chance meeting at a hair salon allowed Vicky, a manager at a biomedical research facility, to rescue this beautiful German Shepherd, Emma, from a dangerous situation. After getting custody of Emma, this 2-year-old bonded instantly with Vicky and is a loyal and faithful companion. Emma now has plenty of room to run on a 52-acre farm and has Chris, her “daddy,” to care for her during the day (he has a home-based custom carpentry shop). She loves to play frisbee with “mommy” and chase rabbits, squirrels, birds, and big bugs. She is now in good flesh, and has blossomed up to a perfect 72 pounds (she was just 50 pounds when Vicky first brought her to the vet). She is not only a beautiful German Shepherd, but she is also kind, gentle, and eager to please. She is now in good hands, immensely loved, and is thriving.



Be a part of LAS Pro's column this year! Email us a photo of you with your pet and we will put you in the running for a spot in one of our upcoming issues. Contact us at

64 Laboratory Animal Science Professional March 2019

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