Otago University is promising animals at its proposed $49.8 million animal research centre will receive the highest standard of care.
The university plans to open the five-storey centre at its campus in February 2018.
It said the centre would meet strict animal welfare regulations and feature the latest technologies.
"Our researchers will continue to be able to contribute to the large body of knowledge gained from animal-based research, which is a vital component in many major advances in medicine and science," it said.
"The University has a responsibility to offer the highest standard of care for the animals used in research."
However, the SPCA said it opposed the centre as there were good alternatives to animal testing, and scientists should be doing their best to develop them.
"Show us why it is you need to use animals in this research when there are viable alternatives," SPCA chief executive Ric Odom said.
"Otago University are investing $50 million and that rings alarm bells with us as it's a huge amount of money - perhaps it should be spent finding better alternatives."