Brando, S., Coe, J. 2022. Confronting back-of-house traditions: Primates as a case study. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 3(3), 366–397.

This review commentary focuses on traditional management practices and facility design with suggested improvements in non-public primate management areas, often called “back-of-house”, (henceforth BOH) in zoos, sanctuaries, and research facilities. Progress has been made toward improving animal quality of life in larger, more naturalistic, and enriched indoor and outdoor display areas. However, the quality of life in BOH areas has improved little in comparison. Basic management, regulatory, structural, and spatial BOH environments are lagging, especially in the developing world, and animals may be confined in less enriching spaces for substantial periods of the 24 h day. We reviewed traditional management policy and practice, as well as newer training, enrichment, and welfare policies and actions, and suggested alternatives for structural environments and spatial environments. The suggestions included using more animal-friendly construction materials and animal–computer interaction, providing greater control of the ambient environment and choice of access to multiple areas by the animals themselves, and designing for optimal animal wellbeing at all times, including when caregivers are no longer present. Case studies focused on primates were included. We concluded by suggesting a new, integrated design model based not upon rote standards and old models but building on empirical foundations while embracing empathy and innovation.