Improving Conditions for Captive Primates

Posted by Liz Hallinan, ALDF Litigation Fellow on May 20, 2014

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Last week, ALDF joined a coalition of animal welfare organizations petitioning the USDA to improve the conditions for primates in laboratories across the country. Years of creative research and hundreds of studies have documented the complex mental abilities of primates. We know that most primates—like monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees—are highly social and use sophisticated reasoning to understand tools, numbers, and other individuals. Yet these intelligent creatures are often subjected to horribly substandard conditions in research laboratories where they are housed alone in barren cages, without access to the outdoors or even to natural materials.

The federal Animal Welfare Act sets the minimum standards for animals in research laboratories. This law requires the USDA to establish rules governing the treatment and housing of many research animals (excluding rats, mice, and birds). In 1985, Congress amended the Animal Welfare Act to include the requirement that research facilities provide space and conditions that promote the psychological health and well-being of primates. In response, the USDA passed a regulation stating that laboratories must “develop, document, and follow an appropriate plan for environment enhancement adequate to promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates.”

What does this mean for apes and monkeys? This vague regulation allows research laboratories to determine their own minimum standard for primate welfare. Not surprisingly, as a result, many laboratories ignore the severe suffering of isolated primates, and USDA inspectors cannot adequately enforce the promotion of psychological well-being for these animals. There is a better way to make sure primates receive proper care under the law.

Instead of these vague regulations, ALDF’s petition requests that the USDA adopt the strict guidelines that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed for chimpanzee care in 2013. These guidelines recognize the intelligence and sensitivity of chimpanzees and their need for social and environmental stimulation. These guidelines also require that chimpanzees be housed in sufficiently large social groups, have year-round access to the outdoors, be fed a varied diet, and that they have access to natural materials and bedding. The petition requests that, at a minimum, the USDA adopt these clear standards for chimpanzees—and adopt similar standards for all other primate species used in research.

For almost 30 years, Congress has recognized that primates possess highly developed cognitive abilities and therefore require significant psychological care. It is about time the USDA passes regulations reflecting this knowledge.


24 thoughts on “Improving Conditions for Captive Primates

  1. Stephanie says:

    How come prisoners live better than innocent animals? How low can you be to let these poor animals suffer….. You need to do something about their living conditions if you are going to imprison them.

  2. Renate says:

    no one has the right to captivate an wild animal. Period.

  3. FEE says:

    It’s immoral and inhumane to cause any animal suffering, taking them out of their natural environment is cruel enough, experimenting on them is abhorent. There are enough alternatives to animal testing, many of which are actually more accurate and reliable. We have no right to inflict such a horrible existence upon another sentient being.

  4. DONNA WARNER says:

    NO ANIMALS SHOULD BE STOLEN FROM THEIR HABITAT AND EXPERIMENTED ON. IT SHOULD BE AGAINST THE LAW! ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS DO NOT WORK AND YOU KNOW IT.
    NO ANIMAL SHOULD BE TORTURED, MAIMED, ELECTROCUTED OR LOCK IN A CAGE AWAY FROM ITS OWN KIND. GOD IS WATCHING AND I BELIEVE THIS IS ONE SIN YOU CANNOT GET AWAY WITH!SO ASHAMED OF OUR COUNTRY TAKING TAX PAYERS MONEY TO SUPPORT TESTING ON ANIMALS!
    NEW ROBOTICS AND NEW SOFTWARE THAT IS HIGH TECH CAN GIVE YOU THE ANSWERS! BUT YOU STILL TAKE TAX DOLLARS FOR GREED. IT IS TIME THEY WENT TO SANCTUARIES INSTEAD OF YOUR TORTURE CHAMBERS!

  5. Michelle says:

    The testing of animals should be banned period! What right do humans have over animals!!! Just because we have the ability to torture doesn’t give us the right!!!!!!

  6. Elaine Brown says:

    This practice needs to end NOW!

  7. Please help these beautiful beings have a decent life without misery and cruelty the way God intended.

  8. Veronica Gallucci says:

    Improvement is not needed what is needed is to not all primates to be kept captive in the first place. It is cruel, mentally and physically abusive and should be outlawed. Stop this now!!!

  9. Julie Steinbeck says:

    We must work together to improve the lives of animals. It is the loving, human, correct thing to do.

  10. Joan Lorenz says:

    Just what is being studied with these primates? It sounds macabe to me. These animals were not put here to be studied. Just what is it they’re looking for. Invasive experiments researchers do are criminal. Hurting any animal in the name of scientific research is subterfuge. They need to let go and their captivity ended.

  11. Pamela Geier says:

    Why can’t humans just LEAVE them alone!? What gives people the right to lock up animals like this?? You are just ignorant bullies!!!

  12. Lorie Obradovich says:

    Until we realize we are not better than other species, we are doomed.

  13. Lisa says:

    All of this torment for human “research” has to stop!! There is NO scientific truth that the terrible lives that animals endure for “testing purposes” in a lab are actually beneficial to scientific results, which benefit humans!

  14. Sandra says:

    Please free them all. It’s the humane thing to do.

  15. Kay Baker says:

    I agree. NO MORE ANIMAL RESEARCH! If the government would stop giving grants to fund this torture it might stop. No money-no reason for these labs.

  16. Kay Baker says:

    I agree–NO MORE ANIMAL RESEARCH! It does no good. If the government would stop funding this torture by giving grants to the “researchers” it would probably stop. No money – no reason to keep these labs open.

  17. Kathy hughes says:

    these animals feel pain. Please do the moral thing.

  18. Jill Callahan says:

    All Primates should allowed to live their lives in their natural environment but if they end up having to be subjected to a research study then they should be offered a similar environment with natural foods, interactions, stimulating surroundings, and peaceful cohabitation with other like beings. They should be treated with kindness and respect. Please change existing laws and as a country and world we need to do the right thing and in an ethical way!

  19. Charlotte Stahl says:

    Animals have been tortured, abused, mistreated, neglected, abandoned and cruelly killed for far too long. We MUST make changes to how we treat and care for them. We MUST use kindness and compassion. Please sign petitions, write letters, send emails, spread the word far and wide and be the change you want to see in this world!

  20. Clare Jacobs says:

    They are not toys. Like any living being, they require and DESERVE to be free or at least feel as if they are free.give them a natural habitat to roam in!

    1. Clare Jacobs says:

      The testing needs to stop as well. That goes without saying! All animals want what we want. To live a full life free from harm.

  21. Whether born into captivity or captured from the wild where they were free, it is terribly cruel to keep a monkey in a cell for any reason. For those people who care about what is happening to want to be able to do something, there are opportunities to help in various ways through social media, especially Facebook.

  22. John Safkow says:

    https://www.change.org/petitions/cincinnati-zoo-bring-gorilla-ndume-home
    Yes, sadly the USDA is the only quality assurance agency responsible for conditions at The Gorilla Foundation, home of Koko and Ndume. USDA is only slightly better than nothing at all. Please sign and share this petition to help Ndume, Koko’s lonely nton-companion.

  23. Wilma Van Brandwijk says:

    Stop

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