The objective of humane transportation is to ensure the safety, security and comfort of animals, while moving them efficiently to their destination. Transportation can result in significant distress for animals, and adversely affect their welfare. Transportation stressors are categorized as:

  • physical (e.g. risk of physical injury and changes in temperature, humidity, or noise)
  • physiological (e.g. poor access to food and water)
  • psychological (e.g. mixing of non-familiar conspecifics and exposure to novel environments)

Even the movement of an animal within a building or institution can be stressful to the animal. Such local transport should be minimized, and requires adequate planning and the implementation of appropriate equipment and procedures. Transportation that involves longer distances requires more detailed planning to ensure that the animals needs will be met immediately prior to, during, and immediately after the journey. Where animals will be transported across international borders, knowledge of the appropriate procedures and documentation is essential to preventing unnecessary delays.

The space allocation recommended for animals during transportation differs from the space recommended in an animal facility. Various factors, such as animal behaviour, social interaction, thermal environment, and species-specific requirements, influence the space that must be allocated. If too much space is allocated, animals can fall and be injured, or even killed. If too little space is allocated, animals can pile up on top of one another, leading to injury or suffocation. Space requirements also depend on whether animals are to be transported individually or in groups, and whether these animals normally stand or lie down during the journey. Isolation can minimize social stress in solitary animals, but may cause stress in animals that prefer being in groups.

The need to provide feed and water prior to, and during, transportation will depend on the species. Provision of food or water may not have any benefit to animals during short trips, and provision of food and water during long trips requires special attention.

Special Considerations for Transporting Fish

Transporting fish

Success in transporting fish requires preventing the physiological problems which can be caused when relatively large numbers of fish are held in relatively small volumes of water. Therefore, a major challenge in transporting fish is the maintenance of appropriate water quality. A life-support system must be provided that will prevent adverse water quality changes and meet the physiological requirements of the fish.

In general, fish should not be kept in air continuously for more than 30 seconds.

Quick Links