As a laboratory animal veterinarian, you are dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in health, quality, and humane care of the animals at your institution. Charles River’s staff of over 180 veterinarians worldwide shares this dedication to every animal under our care.

Like you, we understand the importance of “airlock to shipping dock” biosecurity practices and genetic and health standardization in an animal colony. We adhere to strict animal welfare policies and recognize the value of expert technical, veterinary, and educational support.


The Charles River barrier room system is radically different from the micro-isolation caging commonly utilized by the industry. The term “barrier” can actually mean different things within the laboratory animal community. It may describe a commercial production barrier or the micro-isolation caging mentioned above. At Charles River, the term is used to describe a strict operational philosophy for production rooms that centers on maintaining a barrier impervious to unwanted microorganisms. Key to this operation is the ability to minimize the number of transfers of materials, supplies, and staff across the barrier. While great measures are taken to exclude agents from a barrier room, we employ specific procedures to ensure quick detection in the event of a breach in biosecurity.

The Barrier Room - accept no substitute!

CheckpointGenetic Standardization

The objectives of our International Genetic Standardization (IGS) Program vary slightly, depending upon the type of colony being managed. For outbred stocks, the intent is to minimize inbreeding, maintain heterozygosity and manage genetic drift that would otherwise lead to colony divergence among Charles River colonies worldwide. For inbred strains, IGS helps minimize sub-line divergence due to genetic drift and prevents genetic contamination through mismatings with other strains. This genetics management program, coupled with three other elements—health, quality assurance, and operations—enables Charles River to breed research animals with uniformity, regardless of location throughout the world.

Outbred Management

Charles River employs a system of forward and backward migration to breed research animals that are genetically merged into one large colony residing in multiple locations around the world. Charles River maintains foundation colonies in Wilmington, MA, that consist of breeders derived from our global network. Offspring from each breeding pair in the foundation colony are then used to restock barrier rooms at all Charles River locations where animals are being produced. This program ensures the genetic and health integrity of our models, helps you minimize animal-related study variables and provides you with access to genetically standardized models, regardless of where you are located.

Inbred Management

Inbred strains are defined as animals produced by a minimum of 20 generations of brother-sister mating, traceable to a single founding pair. In contrast to outbred stocks, where genetic management is directed at preserving existing genetic diversity, management of inbred strains is directed at maintaining authenticity and the highest possible levels of genetic uniformity. The inbred mating structure results in animals that are fundamentally free of genetic differences that could increase variation in experimental results.

Find out more:

Technical sheet (.pdf)

Benefits of IGS

  • Health Uniformity: A standardized health program means animals with the same health profile everywhere.
  • Quality Assurance: Documented proof of health and genetic management of animals.

CheckpointHumane Care Initiative

One of Charles River’s core corporate values is commitment to the humane care of research animals produced and used in all CR activities. An embodiment of this core value is the Humane Care initiative—which is designed to raise awareness and provide training to all Charles River employees on the importance of the humane care of our animals; how appropriate care can affect research and potentially the success of drug development; and how to report concerns and questions regarding the welfare of animals at the site.

Humane Care Programs

Best Practices

Our senior staff actively participate in numerous national and international scientific meetings; have established a network of technicians, veterinarians, trainers and animal care staff that act as Animal Welfare Specialists; and regularly conduct site audits and training programs.


Every employee signs a Humane Care Agreement and staff members with direct contact with animals renew this commitment annually. Furthermore, employees are recognized for their achievements in humane care both through financial incentives and publicly by the president of the company at Charles River’s annual meetings.


Posters are prominently placed throughout our animal facilities describing the process for reporting events and conveying concerns or suggestions for improvement. Employees may report animal welfare concerns, questions, and suggestions in person, in writing, or electronically—anonymously, if necessary—to supervisors, the IACUC, or the Attending Veterinarian.


Animal Care Technicians are trained to adhere to strict animal welfare policies. We ensure that the humane care and ethical treatment of our animals is followed right up until the animals arrive at your door step.

Community Support

We foster animal welfare worldwide through our Commitment to Humane Animal Research Through Excellence and Responsibility (CHARTER) program. The CHARTER program supports and funds projects that educate the public about biomedical research, increase awareness of the ethics of humane animal care and enhance education that furthers the humane care of laboratory animals and advances the values of the 3Rs.

Animal Transport

  • Delivery

    We use a dedicated trucking company with drivers that have been trained by Charles River in animal delivery requirements such as animal handling, pest control, biosecurity, safety and emergency procedures.

  • Vehicles

    USDA regulations are followed and fully complied with during all transportation. All vehicles carry only animals of an acceptable health profile, are disinfected daily and are climate controlled. Systems are monitored during delivery and certain vehicles have redundant HVAC units to avoid temperature deviations from equipment malfunctions.

All Charles River animal production sites in North America are either AAALAC- or CCAC-accredited and undergo review on a periodic basis. Globally, each site has an established Ethics Committee or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Our humane care initiatives are specifically designed to go beyond compliance with applicable laws and regulations, ensuring that Charles River continues to be a worldwide leader in the humane care of laboratory animals.

CheckpointSupport Services

Our expert technical group, including veterinarians and doctorate-level scientists with years of industry experience, is ready to help you maintain the highest standards of animal care and treatment. We offer experience and an extensive knowledge base in laboratory animal science, including biology, husbandry, technical methods, surgery, health issues and normative data. We maintain a toxicology database comprising control data for common Charles River stocks and strains, as well as a library of data that has been published by our staff.

Charles River Support Services can help you with:

  • Animal breeding or behavioral issues

  • Troubleshooting contaminations at your facility

  • Interpreting diagnostic testing results

  • Animal selection

  • Designing animal health surveillance programs

  • Literature searches

Education Programs

Through its laboratory animal veterinarians, a carefully assembled group of internationally recognized consultants, and collaboration with university scientists, Charles River offers education programs for sharing useful information.

  • For over 25 years, our annual four-day Charles River Short Course has drawn hundreds of laboratory animal professionals from around the world.
  • Members of Charles River's Professional Services team can deliver seminars at your facility on topics ranging from facilities management to genetically engineered model technology to diagnosis of emerging diseases.
  • We offer hands-on training in rodent surgery.
  • We can organize special topic meetings for biomedical professionals addressing complex current issues, such as genetic management, contaminations and biosecurity.
  • We provide technical bulletins, reference papers, research papers, technical reviews, compilations of morphologic and physiologic control data, and newsletters to keep you abreast of new developments in laboratory animal science.

Where CanCharles RiverTake You?

Ready to get started? Just tell us where you want to go. We know the ropes. We help you navigate the risks. And we focus on results. That’s why Charles River is the partner of choice for leading research institutions around the world. Take advantage of our:

  • High-quality animal models and services
  • Recognized, active leadership in laboratory animal medicine
  • Professional depth and subject matter expertise
  • On-site consulting
  • Dedicated, knowledgeable customer support
  • Flexible ordering systems
  • Safe, secure delivery services

Contact Charles River

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