Rehabilitation offers retirement as an alternative to euthanasia to healthy animals who can’t be experimented on. Although legal, rehabilitation is seldom used when testing protocols come to an end. Rehabilitation was integrated as the 4th R in the European directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes after its last revision in 2010. In France, lab animal rehabilitation has been conducted by the GRAAL for several years (Groupement de Réflexion et d’Action pour l’Animal, French: Actions for Animals Think Tank).

The interventions of Ethosph’R have focused on rehabilitation monitoring and socialising (or resocialising) animals in preparation for rehabilitation.

It Is essential to rigorously monitor and follow rehabilitations to prove their feasibility and ensure the best “retirement” possible [for the animals that served us]. It is indeed inconceivable to take animals out of laboratories if their future lives are of poorer quality.

Our contribution brings a new perspective on the methods for resocialisation and, on a broader spectrum, wild and domestic animal group formation.

It is important to emphasise that researchers are not opposed to post-experimentation rehabilitation. They are often convinced that it is not allowed or unfeasible. Because of this lack of information many researchers do not engage in rehabilitation. That is why the SFECA (Société Française pour l’Étude du Comportement Animal, French: French Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour) decided to support this ethical and respectful approach to animal welfare.

Ethologists represent an essential bridge between the GRAAL and the rest of the scientific community, and their contribution will help rehabilitation to become more commonly used.

The SFECA still supports the GRAAL, but Ethosph’r has now taken over its roles on the ground/ but it is now represented by Ethosph’r on the ground.

As mentioned above, lab animals may have been raised in social isolation. They may have never met another individual of their species and express fear, stress or aggression if introduced to another individual. This may be detrimental to their rehabilitation, as they cannot “retire” in social isolation. Therefore, there is a need for resocialisation in rehabilitation.


One of the fundamental needs for animal welfare is the ability to express their natural behaviours (“5 freedoms”, Farm Animal Welfare Council, 1979). In the wild, social species such as primates and horses live in close knit groups structured around strong and enduring social relationships. These relationships are both affiliative and hierarchical.

Being able to establish social relationships with conspecifics is crucial for social species welfare in captivity. However, some enclosure types still widely in use today restrict or even prevent social interactions between individuals. This may lead to poorer general welfare, a degradation of the human-animal relationship and an increase in reactivity. Our goal is to reconcile social lives of [housed] animals and the constraints of captivity.

We provide consulting services and set up protocols to allow animals raised in isolation to live in social groups.

The resocialisation process requires great care, rigour and patience as social isolation may lead to difficulties in living in social groups.


It is essential to raise awareness of animal welfare for the general public and counsel professionals to implement methods respectful of animals in their care in their daily practices. Our interventions include:

Awareness campaigns/prevention alongside involved institutions/structures

  • Educating professionals to improve animal welfare in captivity throughout the entire lives of the animals whether or not they can be rehabilitated.
  • Scientific support in practice adjustments: socialisation protocols, social welfare assessments.

Consulting for rehabilitation institutions: design support for zoos and sanctuaries.

If you are interested in information regarding our awareness campaigns, reach out to us: