Animal experimentation has always been a controversial
issue. Spokespersons for laboratories portray this experimentation as
vital to human health. Animal protectionists often do not accept
experimentation under any terms, questioning both the scientific
efficacy and the morality of animal based research.
However, there is one thing upon which both sides
agree: the confinement of primates within laboratories can have a
profound impact on the animals themselves. Regulations have been put
into effect by government agencies to provide primates with
environmental enhancement to address this situation.
These things leave us with many questions. How are the
primates cared for? Does the laboratory setting or the experimentation
to which the primates are subjected subject them to pain or distress?
Does it affect them psychologically?
It is very difficult to answer questions like this
without gaining access to the labs themselves. However, the officials
who run laboratories do not give access to people within the animal
protection movement. Therefore we are left only with the researchers own
assessments of the treatment of the animals in their care, which is not
likely to be objective. Or, we can depend on the opinions of government
inspectors. While these inspectors try their best to enforce
regulations, they have access to most facilities only a very few days
per year. Almost anything can be made to look acceptable for a single
Since the aforementioned methods of laboratory
evaluation are likely to be flawed, a different approach has been taken
for this report. The annual progress report filed by the New England
National Primate Research Center (which is funded through the Harvard
Medical School) for fiscal 2002 – 2003 has been used as a basis for
assessing the condition of primates within this facility.