Caring for Our Animals

Caring for Our Animals
Nursing an infant Rhesus Macaque

The Oregon National Primate Research Center's (ONPRC's) contributions to biomedical research rely on scientific integrity, a commitment to innovative research, and ultimately a fundamental respect for life.  Our animals are crucial to discovering more effective and accessible vaccines, treatments, and cures for a myriad of devastating human and animal diseases.  We recognize the ethical questions raised by animal research, which is why we provide humane and compassionate animal care while conserving our resources for only the most essential research endeavors.

Animal Resources & Research Support is responsible for all aspects of animal care and is committed to preserving the health and welfare of ONPRC's nonhuman primates (NHPs).  Our dedicated staff members provide veterinary care twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year; ensure our NHPs are provided nutritionally balanced meals, daily fresh produce, and behavioral enrichment activities; and maintain clean, safe environments.  We maintain one of the largest specific pathogen-free colonies of rhesus macaques in the country. 

ONPRC's adherence to stringent state and federal regulations is strengthened by its independent internal and external oversight.  The Center is inspected biannually by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and provides annual reports to the National Institute of Health via the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.  ONPRC is particularly proud of the fact that it has maintained accreditation for more than 48 consecutive years by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), International.  AAALACi, is a voluntary inspection and accreditation program that promotes standards which often exceed government regulatory requirements.

Our monkeys

The Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) is home to approximately 5,000 nonhuman primates (NHPs), including a variety of macaques (Rhesus, Japanese, and Cynomolgus) and a small number of baboons and squirrel monkeys.  The vast majority of our NHPs are rhesus macaques.

The founding troop of rhesus macaques, whose natural range is from northern India to northern China, was brought to Brown University in the 1950's and transferred to Oregon in 1964.It is no exaggeration to say they are essential to our ability to find cures for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, obesity/diabetes, and dozens of other diseases that cause human suffering and death.

In 1964, the government of Japan donated a troop of 46 Japanese macaques to the Center for conservation purposes—they were threatened by deforestation and by farmers who treated them as pests—so that scientists could study their behavior and social organization. The colony is also an irreplaceable reservoir of natural models relevant to research in multiple sclerosis, age-related macular degeneration, and Batten disease.

ONPRC also has baboons which are part of a contraceptive development program, or a heart disease study focusing on hemostasis and blood coagulation mechanisms. A small number of squirrel monkeys are also housed on site and utilized for studies exploring somatosensory information processing.

Frequently Asked Questions

The vast majority of our nonhuman primate population is housed in large, outdoor enclosures in groups of approximately 30-150 or more monkeys. The Center pioneered social housing of nonhuman primates in the 1970s when it constructed several 1-2 acre, outdoor corrals.  Today, we have 8 such corrals and over 50 smaller enclosures.

Other monkeys live indoors, either in small pens of 3-10 or so individuals or in cages. Cages can connect so that two or more compatible monkeys can live together in two or more cages, to which they all have full access.  The ONPRC is committed to socially housing all nonhuman primates unless prohibited by medical concerns or research requirements.  All nonhuman primates are housed in visual and auditory contact with other nonhuman primates.

We currently house about 5,000 nonhuman primates at the ONPRC, the majority of which are rhesus macaques. We also house approximately 300 Japanese macaques and small numbers of other species (cynomolgus macaques, squirrel monkeys and baboons).

An outdoor breeding program ensures that the Oregon National Primate Research Center's nonhuman primate population is nearly self-sustaining. The original colony of rhesus macaques, numbering approximately 400, came from India. Today, monkeys not bred at the Center are acquired from other primate facilities in the US.

Animal Resources and Research Support veterinarians, veterinary technical staff, behavioral staff, animal care technicians, laboratory staff, and administrative support staff are collectively responsible for the physical care and psychological well-being of the NHPs.

Because the Oregon National Primate Research Center's nonhuman primates are kept in excellent health, receive regular veterinary care, and enjoy balanced nutrition, they live, on average, significantly longer than their "wild" counterparts in India and China. In addition, there is a focused program to promote their psychological well-being. Surgical and any potentially painful procedures are performed under the same anesthetic and aseptic conditions as human surgery.

The care and treatment of animals is subject to the policies of the Oregon National Primate Research Center and its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Composed of researchers, veterinarians, support staff and members of the community, the IACUC must review and approve all research procedures involving animals and assure that proper anesthesia and analgesia are used in cases that may potentially cause pain or discomfort. The IACUC also ensures that the research being performed is not duplicative, and that it utilizes the fewest possible number of animals. In addition, the committee conducts twice-a-year evaluations of the laboratory animal care and use program and inspects all animal facilities.

The ONPRC adheres to all National Institutes of Health (NIH) policies regarding animal care and use. The Office for Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) supervises institutions and researchers receiving federal funding. OLAW has established the Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals for all publicly funded research, and the Center fully complies with this Policy by the provision of an Animal Welfare Assurance document, which is provided to OLAW every three years. This document fully describes the Center's animal care and use program.

The ONPRC is regulated by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This office implements the Animal Welfare Act & Regulations, and conducts routine, unannounced inspections, normally twice each year, of animal facilities at the Center to ensure compliance.

The ONPRC has been fully accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International since 1974. A private nonprofit organization promoting the responsible treatment of animals in science through voluntary assessment and accreditation programs, AAALACi conducts thorough site visits every three years, evaluating programs in terms of overall animal health and well-being. When AAALACi granted the ONPRC continuing full, 3-year accreditation in 2022, it commended the Center "…for providing and maintaining an exemplary program of laboratory animal care and use."

Yes! See our Tour page for details.  In an effort to protect the monkeys from infection or other potential illnesses which may be transmitted by humans, access is limited.