A workshop on "Nursery Rearing of Nonhuman Primates in the 21st Century", organized by Gene Sackett and Gerald Ruppenthal, will be held on June 1, 9:00-12:30 at the Oklahoma City meeting of the American Society of Primatologists. Participants will stimulate discussion regarding changes in the new century in (1) goals of nursery rearing, (2) concepts concerning these goals, (3) new methods for goal attainment, and (4) new data concerning effects of nursery or hand rearing on health, biobehavioral, and social development.
To prepare logistic support we need to estimate the number of attendees. Please send a brief email to Jsackett@bart.rprc.washington.edu if you will definitely attend or are considering attendance. As we hope to produce a book on the topic based on the workshop, we will consider preparation of additional chapters by workshop attendees. If you are interested in contributing to a book, please indicate that in your email along with a brief description of your potential contribution.
The invited speakers represent a range of genera and issues. They are
Our rationale for the workshop is detailed below.
Specific goals of nursery rearing involve some combination of saving at-risk newborns and infants that cannot be reared by mothers for conservation, display, research, and/or future breeding purposes. Some examples of changing goals include need for biological containment in disease research, production of specific pathogen free colonies by removal of neonates from the mother, production of phenotypes for genetic and molecular biology studies, and breeding endangered species for conservation or research purposes.
One change in concepts involves no longer simply warehousing nursery reared primates for future assignment to research projects. Instead, modern methods are aimed at providing psychologically rich environments to foster nondeviant behavioral and physiological development. The underlying concept is that normal animals make better research subjects. In the extreme view, only normal animals provide valid behavioral or biological subjects in most primate research. A variant view is that reasonably normal development will produce successful breeders and healthy colony members.
The psychological well-being movement and the Institutional Animal Care Committee have brought new dimensions into rearing primates in captivity. These involve both environment and social-behavioral considerations. In this context, regulations regarding rearing methods may bring bureaucracy into conflict with the conditions that actually foster development in meeting research, breeding and husbandry, conservation, or public display goals.
New data of particular importance concerns variations in physiological and growth systems that differentially affect nursery compared with mother reared primates. Examples include immunological, neurochemical, and hormonal effects that impact all aspects of development. Such information is critical for identifying appropriate research subjects, as well as understanding deviations from normative developmental patterns. It is also of importance for understanding nongenetic intergenerational phenomena that affect the health and behavior of future offspring. Of course, new data identifying conditions producing adaptive, healthy, nursery reared individuals are equally important.