Abstract # 86:

Scheduled for Friday, June 18, 2010 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 18 (Medallion Ballroom C/D/E/F) Poster Presentation


J. R. Welch, N. DeBolt Robertson, K. Mueller, H. Russell and K. Coleman
Oregon National Primate Res. Ctr., 505 NW 185th Ave, Beaverton, OR 97006, USA

Researchers have well documented a multitude of psychological and physiological adverse consequences resulting from the nursery rearing of nonhuman primates. Therefore, infants abandoned from their natural mothers early in life are preferentially placed with lactating foster mothers. Unfortunately, a supply of lactating foster mothers is not readily available at most biomedical institutions. We examined the use of operant conditioning to train non-lactating female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) to act as foster mothers to abandoned infants. We trained 2 adult females to come to the front of the cage with an infant and allow the infant to drink from a bottle of formula placed on the outside of the cage. To date, we have successfully fostered 3 infants abandoned at birth. These foster-reared (FR) infants were provided with a bottle every 2-4 hours, following the same schedule as nursery reared (NR) infants. We compared the weight gain of these infants with 5 NR infants. While small sample sizes preclude statistical analysis, both FR and NR infants gained weight (from birth to approximately 2 months) at a comparable rate [FR=6.79 +/-1.0 g/d; NR=5.96 +/-0.4 g/d], within published normal limits. We believe the use of trained foster mothers offers an alternative to nursery rearing, and will reduce adverse long-term behavioral and physiological effects thus improving the overall health of nonhuman primate models.