Australia Resources Center (ARC) has announced it is “winding up its operations over the next 12-18 months,” leaving researchers in a potential lurch. The company has been Australia’s leading supplier of lab mice and rats for more than 30 years and provides specialized specimens for research centres in several countries in addition to Australia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand. 

In a July 2 email to customers, acting CEO Kirsty Moynihan said the company is no longer “able to operate in a self-sustaining manner,” a requisite required by the state legislation that founded the centre.

Some customers may have been caught off guard by the announcement, which could exacerbate the delays already being experienced due to COVID-19, but some experts say the closure could have long-term benefits.

The government of Western Australia has been subsidizing ARC to the tune of AU$1.3 million annually, Science says. And Murdoch University, which leases space to ARC, has announced its intentions to reclaim that land, further compounding issues.

Competitors will have to step up to fill up the gap, but Malcolm France, an Australian veterinarian who advises institutions on management and care of research animals, suggests their capacity to do so may be limited, 

“It’s a shame to be losing [ARC], but it looks like the research community will have no choice but to come up with another solution,” France told Science, saying that, on the bright side, the closure could kickstart the creation of new facilities possibly located in eastern Australia, the continent’s medical research hub.