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Prerequisite  | General Transportation Requirements |
Specific Transportation Requirements  |  Health Assurance Information |
Confirming the Shipment | Shipping the Animals |
Transporting Live or Dead Animals Containing Hazardous Materials |

The Department of Transportation (DOT), US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and UCSF Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) have established strict guidelines for transport of all live animals. As a shipper/transporter you are responsible for taking all the necessary precautions to ensure the well being of animals.

Please contact LARC at 476-2204 for assistance on transportation of animals. Animals cannot be transported on UCSF or VA Shuttles, public transportation or private cabs. LARC has designated transport vehicles for local transportation.


There are certain requirements that apply to all transportation of live animals regardless of the final destination. The following is a summary of the more important requirements:

  • You must:
    • Be an authorized user under a currently active protocol.

    • Be knowledgeable in the transportation guidelines.

    • Be familiar with the appropriate provisions of the UCSF-Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals.
    • Provide the transportation logbook and vehicle for inspection every 6 months.

  • Cages and other shipping containers must meet the minimum standards for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation and design for safe handling. Some transportation-related stress is inevitable, but it can be minimized by attention to those factors (contact 476-2204 for assistance).

Note: You must follow all applicable additional safety precautions established by other UCSF Campus Committees (e.g. Biological Safety Committee, etc.).

General Transportation Requirements

  • The LARC Director (or his designee) is:
    • Responsible for oversight of these animal transportation guidelines, and

    • Can grant exceptions when it is considered in the best interest of the animal(s).

    • The IACUC will resolve conflicts regarding animal transportation issues.

  • Plan all transportation of animals, including intra-institutional transportation, to:
    • Minimize transit time and the risk of zoonoses
    • Minimize the risk of exposure to animal allergens and zoonotic diseases
    • Protect against environmental extremes
    • Avoid overcrowding
    • Provide food and water when indicated
    • Protect against physical trauma
  • Physically separate the animals by species to prevent interspecies disease transmission and to eliminate anxiety and possible physiological and behavioral changes due to interspecies conflict.

  • Avoid temperature extremes when animals are transported; special precautions or postponements are required when temperatures are below 450 F or above 850 F and may jeopardize the welfare of the animals.

  • Exercise care in handling enclosures used to transport live animals. They must not be tossed, dropped, needlessly tilted, stacked in a manner which may reasonably be expected to result in their falling, or handled in any manner which may cause physical trauma or stress to the animals.

  • Contact a LARC Veterinarian (476-2204) to verify that the animals removed from the housing areas can be returned. This is especially important for rodents, as rodents taken out of a barrier facility to a laboratory, or non-barrier space, cannot return to the barrier.

  • Contact the husbandry supervisor (476-2204) to arrange for the return of animals that can be returned to the housing area.

  • If animal(s) will not be returned, either notify the LARC Business Office (476-2204), or return the cage card(s) on the day the animals are removed. Per-diem charges are calculated based on the animal housing period.

  • Please contact LARC at 476-2204 for assistance on transportation of animals. Animals cannot be transported on UCSF or VA Shuttles, public transportation or private cabs. LARC has designated transport vehicles for local transportation.

  • See Barrier to Barrier Transportation Form and also Request to Export Animals From UCSF and Obtain Health Reports Form.
  • Under special circumstances, rodents may be transported in a private vehicle.  Animal users must provide justification for private transport of animals in Section K (Locations) of the animal protocol and maintain a private transportation logbook.

Specific Transportation Requirements

Within a UCSF Campus

  • Animals can only be transported to facilities (e.g. laboratories, study areas) outside of the LARC space for which the Investigator has an approval from the IACUC.
  • Please note that housing rats or mice in your lab for more than 12 hours requires special permission from the IACUC.

  • Transportation of animals must be done in a direct and timely manner, avoiding public areas and areas primarily used by patients.

  • The hallways are public and as such any movement of animals to a lab in these areas should be discrete and unobtrusive. Opaque or shielded transportation containers reduce animal stress.

  • Rodents may be hand carried between buildings on a UCSF campus in filter-top housing cages with cover securely taped shut.

  • Please do not place cages in the hallways outside of the laboratories. This practice may result in spread of disease to the healthy rodent populations and staff; lost cages also contribute towards higher costs. Return all empty cages to the designated areas (e.g. Animal Towers) and place them inside the red carts designated for storage of dirty cages.

  • Transport of large animals within a campus must be done in a LARC approved transportation unit. The must be pre-approved by the IACUC and described in the approved protocol.

  • An immobilizing drug and/or secure physical control system should be used when transporting non-human primates between rooms in a laboratory/housing complex.

Between UCSF Satellite Locations

At times it is necessary to transport animals between UCSF Satellite Locations. In these instances the following requirements apply:

  • The LARC Animal Transportation Service, or an approved outside vendor, must be used for the movement of dogs, cats, swine, non-human primates and other large animals. The movement must be pre-approved by the IACUC and described in the approved protocol addressing the mode of transportation, the number of animals transported, and the frequency of transportation.

  • Barrier animals are moved only on Thursdays, but conventional rodents can be transferred on Monday through Friday. Forty-eight (48) hour notices must be provided.

  • Under special circumstances, vertebrate research animals may be transported in a private vehicle.  Animal users must provide justification for private transport of animals in Section K (Locations) of the animal protocol and maintain a private transportation logbook.
  • Vertebrate research animals may NOT be transported on any UCSF shuttles.

  • A physical containment system must be used when transporting non-human primates between buildings unless the entire caging system can be relocated with the animals in place.

  • Large animals must be clearly identified prior to transportation. This can be achieved by tattoos, USDA-approved ID tags, or subcutaneous transponders.

  • There must be full coordination with the LARC supervisor of the facility receiving the animal(s) at the other campus site. This is important to ensure that animals are received properly and that appropriate facilities are available for housing.

  • Newly transported animals should be given a period for physiologic, psychologic, and nutritional stabilization before their use. The length of time for stabilization will depend on the type and duration of animal transportation, the species involved, and the intended use of the animals.

  • Under current UCSF Policy all work with sheep or sheep tissue must be performed at the Parnassus Sheep Containment Facility (Sheep Barn). Use of sheep jor sheep tissue at all other locations must be approved by the LARC Director and UCSF Biological Safety Officer and is strictly restricted to sheep or sheep tissue which can be certified as Q-fever free. Therefore, no transportation of sheep is allowed.

  • Currently the transportation of large animals to Mission Center or Mount Zion Facility is prohibited.

Non-UCSF Facilities

Transfer of animals to non-UCSF facilities is subject to additional requirements, the extent of which depends on the location, as well as polices of, the receiving institution.

  • The complexity of shipping requirements changes significantly depending on:
    • The location of receiving institution. As an example, shipping outside of the USA requires USDA/APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) certificate of veterinary inspection. Some States have specific quarantine requirements for some species.

    • Transportation method, (for example, the airline's established company policy for the proper handling of the animals they transport).
  • LARC may be able to schedule transportation within the general SF Bay Area. Transportation over longer distances will require the use of commercial carriers.

  • It is strongly recommended that LARC (476-2204) be contacted as soon as possible to make the necessary arrangements.

Health Assurance Information

  • Facilities receiving animals typically require health assurance information before they will accept the animals.

  • To facilitate the export of animals from UCSF, LARC requests that investigators submit a Request to Export Animals from UCSF. This form identifies the UCSF investigator, the species, strain and number of animals to be shipped as well as the investigator and facility receiving the animals.

Confirming the Shipment

  • When LARC receives a completed Transfer/Ship Animals form:
    • The investigator will contact the receiving institution and provide them with the necessary health assurance information; these may be obtained from LARC.

    • Once the receiving institution agrees to accept the animals, the investigator will confirm the shipping address. For species requiring USDA Health Certificates, LARC will issue the Certificate for the shipment.

Shipping the Animals

  • The LARC Business Office will make shipping arrangements.

  • LARC has contact information for commercial shipping firms that handle animals, shipping crates and miscellaneous items such as transport gel.

  • To ensure the safety and well being of the animals, LARC requires that animals not be shipped after Wednesday of a normal business week. Shipping later in the week may result in animals being left unattended over a weekend in an airport cargo containment facility.

Transporting Live or Dead Animals Containing Hazardous Materials

Transportation of hazardous materials in general poses special problems, this is significantly amplified (e.g. potential spread through excreta) when the material is contained in an animal. It is therefore important that appropriate precautions are incorporated both during the transportation and after the animals have arrived at their destination. Due to complexity of these requirements, the investigators planning to transport live animals containing radioactive materials or biohazards (e.g. human pathogens) or chemicals (e.g. carcinogens) from one location to another must contact their Departmental Safety Advisor (DSA) directly (or by calling 476-1300) for specific guidance.