Why Study Animals?

Human health

Scientists working with animals, animal-based Scientists, aim to improve the health and well-being of people by:

  • understanding what causes diseases and how they may be treated and prevented,
  • preventing the diseases that are caused by animal infections,
  • exploring parallels between animal and human disease,
  • studying animal models of normal or abnormal human function,
  • studying normal function in animals, and improving our knowledge of how contact with companion animals can help people to stay well or recover from illnesses or injuries (therapeutic support from animals).

Health of companion, sport and service animals

Animal-based science also aims to improve the health and welfare of animals that provide us with companionship as pets and with which we share other activities. These activities include entertainment, recreation, sport, service and helping people to stay well or get better after they have been ill or injured (therapeutic support).

Animal-based scientists have helped us to understand the special needs of these animals. For instance, the special diets that young animals need so they can grow properly, the different food needs of dogs and cats, the special food needs of pregnant, nursing (lactating) and aged pets, the particular foods birds need, the special diets, exercise and health care required during the training and racing of sports animals, and so on.

Farm and other production animals

Animal-based scientists work to improve the health, welfare and productivity of farm animals and other animals used to provide food, fibre and other products.

Native and endangered wildlife

Animal-based scientists work to find better and humane ways to preserve, protect and manage a range of animal species that is ecologically stable and adapted to the Australian environment. This work is directed at safeguarding Australia's native animals and plants. It involves knowing about the native animals themselves, the foods they like and need, and what other animals threaten their survival.

Threats to native animals arise from direct attacks by predators or by over-browsing of essential food plants by other so-called “pest” animals. A major threat to plants arises from over-browsing. Thus, safeguarding our native animals and plants also involves developing humane and effective pest control methods to protect such animal and plant species from the animals that threaten them.

Knowledge of biological processes

Animal-based scientists work to broaden the foundations of biological science, including our knowledge and understanding of life processes in all animal species.

We have an in-built curiosity to discover how things work. This curiosity leads us to explore how the bodies of animals and people work, simply because we would like to know. This is a separate and distinct reason, quite different from all of the others noted here.