McMillan, J. L., Perlman, J. E., Bloomsmith, M. A. 2007. Components of an animal training program at a large institution. American Journal of Primatology 69(S1), 117. (30th Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #177)
The application of positive reinforcement training (PRT) has increased in zoological, laboratory, and research settings in recent years, however there is little literature pertaining to the development and implementation of such programs. Over the past year, Yerkes National Primate Research Center has established an animal training program using a facility-wide approach. With top-down support, dedicated personnel, involvement in the IACUC review process, and a steering committee, this method has thus far been successful. Historically, non-human primates have been trained at Yerkes on an as-needed basis relating to research projects or husbandry issues. This section-wide approach led to training success for a focused number of animals with little consistency among trainers working in different sections. The establishment of a centralized program is driven by a committee with representatives from Animal Care, Veterinary, Research, and Behavioral Management staffs. The committee identified training needs and set training and research goals for the institution, and is striving for consistency in the program. The committee is charged with developing an institutional staff animal training program. Dedicated personnel are responsible for its implementation and are available for training consultation for individual research groups. The facility-wide model, while cumbersome in design and implementation, has the ability to affect changes in daily operations at an institutional level and positively impact the well-being of the entire primate population.