Abstract # 8:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 11:00 AM-11:20 AM: Session 2 (Meeting Room 408) Oral Presentation


ATTEMPTS TO OPTIMIZE ANIMAL WELFARE, HOUSING AND HUSBANDRY OF CAPTIVE NONHUMAN PRIMATES THROUGH AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH: A CASE STUDY FROM RHESUS MACAQUE BREEDING GROUPS

G. K. Wilkerson1, S. Pavonetti1, B. Bernacky1, K. Phillips2, L. Williams1, S. Schapiro1 and C. Abee1
1MD Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Veterinary Sciences, Bastrop Texas, USA, 2Trinity University
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Reduction of distress within captive nonhuman primates remains of paramount concern. Distress, in turn, is defined by the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research as “a negative state in which coping and adaptation processes fail to return an organism to physiological and/or psychological homeostasis” and it is suggested that distress should only be diagnosed in animals where this deficit can demonstrated through a combination of clinical, behavioral and physiologic parameters. To that, we recently undertook a project aimed at reducing distress amongst gang-caged, breeding groups of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) through the addition of a single, large visual-barrier to their cages. In this project we compared a variety of behavioral, physiological and clinical parameters between adult animals and offspring from 8 visual-barrier groups and 8 control groups over a 1-year period. In contrast to our hypothesis that predicted rhesus macaques housed in visual barrier-cages would uniformly show significantly less indicators of distress than control-housed rhesus, we were unable to show consistent results for all cohorts of animals involved in the study. Instead we found that distress in the rhesus monkey varied with age, social rank and season and that only through an interdisciplinary approach were these nuances in the visual-barrier data appreciated. In conclusion, a multimodal approach is useful and perhaps even essential in the evaluation of novel husbandry/enrichment devises as to their overall usefulness.