Camacho, J. N., Boskovic, S., Moeller, E. 2012. Improved nonhuman primate social housing using visual cues associated for an intensive research study. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science [AALAS] Meeting Official Program, 636-637 (Abstract #PS35).
Lean management-based visual tools have been used to improve the quality of animal care associated with a complex research study involving immune-compromised cynomolgus monkeys (M. fascicularis) in various postsurgical recovery states. In order to effectively care for such research animals, it is critical that communication be clear among all supporting members of the animal care team—investigative lab, animal care staff, veterinary care members, and behavioral staff. General care, which includes health monitoring, sanitization, feeding regimens, and social housing, can be complicated because of the intensive nature of the study; however, visual controls detailing important information regarding study specifications have enabled transparent communication and increased the quality and accuracy of care provided. Specifically, social housing was improved by 80% after implementation of a lean-based visual control system where animals were paired using critical study information. As a result, time was saved conducting social housing attempts which range from several weeks to months and involve daily investment of time to evaluate compatibility (hierarchy, physical interactions, food and space sharing). Prior to implementation of visual tools, study animals were often separated or euthanized before the pair housing process was complete, wasting time and discouraging animal care staff investments. After implementation of visual control system, animals were strategically identified and paired with greater long-term success. Additionally, the visual system enabled the animal care staff with the ability to identify animals that are sick and provide detailed assessments, nursing care and identification of animals in various stages of study initiated housing specifications that improved overall health and wellbeing for each nonhuman primate patient.