Ross, S. R., Leinwand, J. G. 2020. A review of research in primate sanctuaries. Biology Letters 16(4), 1620200033.
While non-human primate studies have long been conducted in laboratories, and more recently at zoological parks, sanctuaries are increasingly considered a viable setting for research. Accredited sanctuaries in non-range countries house thousands of primates formerly used as subjects of medical research, trained performers or personal pets. In range countries, however, sanctuaries typically house orphaned primates confiscated from illegal poaching and the bushmeat and pet trafficking trades. Although the primary mission of these sanctuaries is to rescue and rehabilitate residents, many of these organizations are increasingly willing to participate in non-invasive research. Notably, from a scientific standpoint, most sanctuaries provide potential advantages over traditional settings, such as large, naturalistic physical and social environments which may result in more relevant models of primates' free-ranging wild counterparts than other captive settings. As a result, an impressive scope of research in the fields of primate behaviour, cognition, veterinary science, genetics and physiology have been studied in sanctuaries. In this review, we examine the range and form of research that has been conducted at accredited sanctuaries around the world. We also describe the potential challenges of sanctuary-based work and the considerations that external researchers may face when deciding to collaborate with primate sanctuaries on their research projects.