What is done for the psychological well-being of the nonhuman primates?
The Oregon National Primate Research Center developed a "Plan for Environmental Enhancement Adequate to Promote Psychological Well-Being of Nonhuman Primates" in July 1991, to comply with revised Animal Welfare Act standards. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approved plan as revised, along with standard operating procedures, are continually reviewed in conjunction with the semiannual evaluation of the animal care and use program.
The Center's Attending Veterinarian has the federally mandated responsibility for implementing the environmental enhancement plan. In addition, a doctoral-level and full-time animal behavior specialist provides expertise for implementing details of the plan.
Elements in the plan include:
- putting monkeys into social groups whenever possible
- pairing monkeys that live in cages to the extent that is possible without jeopardizing their well-being
- forming "life-long pairs" of young females
- assigning monkeys to research projects as pairs whenever it does not conflict with the aims and methods of the research
- training animal care staff in operant conditioning (positive reinforcement such as food treats) to gain the cooperation of monkeys with husbandry and research procedures
- providing every caged monkey an ever-changing variety of toys and devices that can be manipulated
- providing daily fruit and vegetable treats as well as trail mix and grain, either scattered or hidden in puzzle feeders that require foraging activity
- giving special attention to monkeys displaying atypical behavior (in most cases, over-grooming)
- preventing the onset of atypical behaviors by modifying husbandry practices that could cause stress (for example, careful relocation of monkeys from room to room or from corrals to physical exam sites)