Enrichment and primate centers: Closing the gap between research and practice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Kate Baker
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
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A wealth of published research is available to guide environmental enrichment programs for nonhuman primates, but common practice may not consistently correspond to research findings. A 2003 survey to quantify common practice queried individuals overseeing enrichment programs about (a) social, feeding, structural, and manipulable enrichment; (b) human interaction and training; (c) general program administration; (d) the role of the institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) in the enrichment program; and (e) the impetus for recent programmatic changes. Returned surveys provided information on the management of 35,863 primates and found social housing significantly more constrained than inanimate enrichment. Survey results suggest that social housing of macaques has not increased significantly over the past decade. The most commonly mentioned constraints related to research protocols. Facilities with thorough IACUC reviews of enrichment issues provided social housing for a significantly larger proportion of primates in biomedical research studies than did those with rare IACUC reviews. IACUC reviews prompted program enhancements much less often than did regulatory or accreditation inspections. These results suggest IACUC review is an underutilized mechanism for improving enrichment programs.


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