Stammen, R. L., Cohen, J. K., Connor-Stroud, F. R. et al. 2022. Enhancing animal welfare by providing custom caging space for nonhuman primates. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 10(1) (January/February), 20-23.
The YNPRC recently renovated two NHP housing areas with a novel facility design and equipped with a customized caging system that offers additional outdoor access, socialization, and enrichment opportunities for NHPs assigned to infectious disease studies, awaiting biomedical research assignment, or in quarantine. Conventional NHP caging has limited housing square footage and only allows for socialization of pairs indoors. This state-of-the-art customized caging system provides opportunities for trio or group housing, larger floor space, complex caging configurations, and increased climbing and perching opportunities. Personnel who routinely observe and interact with the animals in the new custom caging system have subjectively noticed a positive impact on the animals. For example, YNPRC animal behavior management specialists have noted that the ability to go outside has been positive for the animals. Animals have more opportunities to forage, exercise, play, have larger social groups, and access different enrichment devices such as swings, spin poles, water enrichment, different styles and levels of perching, and large toys such as rocking horses or balls. Staff love to watch them play, interact with each other, and sunbathe. Likewise, veterinary technicians agree that the animals appear happier, enjoy having the option to go outside, and spend considerably more time outdoors compared to indoors. YNPRC Behavior Management Unit is currently researching the effects of this new caging system, with outdoor access, on animal welfare with more objective methods and measurements.