How Are Primates Cared For Within Laboratories?
Are laboratories following laws regarding proper care
of primates? This is a difficult question to answer. Many of the
regulations regarding the care of animals are common to all species of
animals. In other words, for the most part the regulations are the same
whether we are speaking of primates or rabbits. The regulations which
were derived from the Animal Welfare Act cover veterinary care, feeding,
pain relief in surgery, etc. But very often the same regulation is used
for all species. Therefore it is difficult to ascertain which violations
pertain to primates.
USDA/APHIS information regarding violations of the AWA
is available on the USDA website at
Examination of the violations listed at this location
shows that approximately 1 out of every 4 labs has a violation regarding
animal care, and approximately 1 out of every 2 labs has a violation
regarding the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee, the internal
body that is responsible for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act
within each facility and for the approval of experimental protocols. As
will be shown when specific facilities are examined, many of these
violations were relevant to primates.
It is also significant to note that there were 227
separate violations of the requirements for providing environmental
enhancement for primates. Many of these violations took place in
research facilities. The trend towards non-compliance with this new area
of enforcement will be examined when specific facilities are discussed.
The psychological well being of primates within laboratories is a major
concern. Isolation has been shown to have very deleterious effects on
the psychological well being of primates. Therefore, during 2000 – 2001
the USDA undertook a Housing Survey to investigate the conditions within
which primates are housed. Research facilities had a much worse record
for providing socialization for primates than did either exhibitors or
animal dealers. Dealers housed 89% of their animals in pair/group
housing; exhibitors gave 91% of the primates in their care socialized
housing. Research facilities gave only 65% socialized housing. Or, 35%
of the primates in research facilities experienced some level of social
isolation. Problems with environmental enhancement are common in the
specific facilities which will be examined next.
While this discussion of national trends in AWA
violations has been useful, an examination of specific facilities will
provide examples of violations at well-known laboratories.