The happiness project

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Science  09 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6376, pp. 624-627
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6376.624

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For decades, lab animals like rodents and fish have lived in barren enclosures: a small plastic box, few—if any—companions, and little else. The smaller the number of variables, the thinking went, the greater the accuracy of the experiment. But a growing number of studies suggests that this approach may be making these creatures poor models for human disease. A new group of advocates is pushing scientists to enrich the lives of the animals in their care, giving them toys, companions, and opportunities to exercise and explore. These proponents are driven by both a concern for the welfare of lab animals and a desire to make their contributions to research more meaningful. And they're beginning to conduct experiments that show that such enrichments not only benefit animals, but science as well. However, other researchers fear that adding extras to animal cages could muddy experiments and cost labs too much time and resources.