Animal Welfare - Nonhuman Primates
The NPRCs provide superior animal care.
Nonhuman primates that participate in research are provided excellent veterinary medical care by veterinarians who are board certified by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), which is a specialty board recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Scientists trained in behavioral management provide oversight for the behavioral management and environmental enrichment programs utilizing research driven approaches. The majority of nonhuman primates at the NPRCs are maintained in multi-family groups in large outdoor enclosures. Animals housed indoors live in groups or pairs unless scientists can demonstrate that social housing would significantly compromise research goals. The primates are trained to cooperate with necessary research and husbandry procedures. Enrichment is provided in the form of food treats, toys, foraging boards, mirrors, hammocks, swings, tunnels, and other activities to keep the animals physically and mentally healthy. Regular veterinary care includes daily health checks and biannual physicals, as well as immunizations, provision of analgesia, dental care, physical therapy, surgical care, and obstetric services as needed.
Laws and regulations govern animal research.
The Animal Welfare Act, enacted in 1966 and last amended in 2010, regulates animal research in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces the Animal Welfare Act and conducts unannounced inspections at the NPRCs on an annual basis. The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) within the National Institutes of Health also oversees the care and utilization of laboratory animals. In order to receive funding from the NIH, each of the NPRCs must submit a legal Assurance to OLAW that they are in compliance with the Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. This legal Assurance includes descriptions of the facilities, equipment, personnel, and policies, especially as they relate to their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and to veterinary care. Read the October 2016 Report on the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare Site Visits to the National Primate Research Centers here.
The IACUC reviews each proposed research protocol looking for, among other things: scientific validity, provisions for use of non-animal research models, statistical validity, and measures for the animals’ comfort and well-being. They have the authority to approve or reject any research protocol. The IACUC also evaluates the entire animal program twice a year, ensuring that research is in accordance with approved protocols and that animals are cared for in a manner that adheres to the standards set forth in the Guide. Following each semiannual evaluation, the IACUC reports its findings to the institution Directors and the Institutional Official.
In addition to complying with federal statutes and policies, the NPRCs are accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International. AAALAC International is a private, non-profit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals used in scientific research. AAALAC standards exceed those of federal laws and policies, and accreditation by AAALAC International is a clear demonstration of an institution's commitment to the responsible treatment of animals. The NPRCs are fully compliant with these policies, and frequently receive exemplary status on accreditation reviews.
The NPRCs educate new generations of scientists and the public.
The National Primate Research Centers educate new generations of scientists, physicians, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other laboratory animal professionals, as well as the public by providing training through internships and externships, conducting tours and reaching out to schools and community groups with information about cutting-edge science and compassionate animal care programs. In addition to training students in degree-oriented programs, most provide summer apprenticeship opportunities for high school and/or undergraduate students. Representatives from the NPRCs also participate in national conferences where they display and disseminate information regarding the scientific accomplishments by researchers at the NPRCs. Over the past 12 months, the NPRCs communicated with over 40,208 individuals as part of their education and community outreach efforts.