Egeler, J. L., Hoekwater, S., Hoffman, H. D. 2010. A novel approach for utilizing large group-housing style cages for nonhuman primates in toxicology studies. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science [AALAS] Meeting Official Program, 716 (Abstract #P110).
The ability to provide permanent group-housed caging for nonhuman primates involved in toxicology research is quickly becoming an important step in improving the overall quality of life for these animals. This type of caging offers increased vertical space allowing animals to display species-specific behaviors such as vertical flight from predators and climbing. The additional space also creates enhanced opportunities for environmental enrichment and socialization, which can drastically improve the means by which animal laboratories are able to maintain the psychologic wellbeing for nonhuman primates. As more facilities adopt this style of caging and incorporate this progressive housing environment in toxicology study designs, a shift in the industry standard is becoming apparent. However, offering this type of caging also presents new challenges in terms of general husbandry, the number of staff required for technical procedures, and how animals are removed from the caging for various procedures. The necessity of using a substrate or bedding in these cages, which needs to be changed daily, makes cleaning of these rooms a labor-intensive process. Some types of individual data collection such as food consumption, detailed observations, and urine/feces collection can also be made more difficult by housing animals in this manner. A longer period of time is required prior to study start in order to acclimate animals to being removed from this style of caging in an efficient manner. We will address these issues as well as offer practical solutions to make this caging work under toxicology study conditions. Safe methods and procedures for removing animals from this caging will also be highlighted. Training of technical staff is also crucial in making the removal of these animals safe for both the technicians and the animals.