Training of laboratory-housed non-human primates in the UK



Buchanan-Smith HM, Prescott MJ & Rennie A (2005) Training of laboratory-housed non-human primates in the UK. Anthrozoos, 18 (3), pp. 288-303.

Laboratory-housed non-human primates may experience a range of potential stressors, including physical and chemical restraint, venepuncture, injection, catching and cage-change. Training them to co-operate, using positive reinforcement techniques, is one means of significantly reducing the adverse impact of such procedures upon them and, therefore, is a refinement. Furthermore, the additional time that staff spend with the primates, and the need for individual recognition and close observation of animal behavior, mean that the trainer develops a relationship with each individual animal which can be beneficial for animal welfare (e.g., by reducing the occurrence of abnormal behavior and fear of humans). We surveyed use of training in thirteen UK establishments using and breeding primates, utilizing a mixed-mode questionnaire. The survey demonstrated that there is widespread awareness of training as a refinement and appreciation of its diverse benefits, but training is not used as widely or as fully as it might be. This is largely due to real constraints (principally staff and time and a lack of confidence in ability to train), and perceived constraints (such as a supposed lack of information on how to train and assessment of the benefits, and an overestimation of the time investment needed). There is also considerable variation between establishments in the purposes of training and techniques used, with a reliance on negative reinforcement in three. We conclude that there is considerable scope for refinement of common scientific, veterinary and husbandry procedures, and refer to some resources designed to help establishments take action (e.g., Prescott and Buchanan-Smith 2003).

training; negative reinforcement; positive reinforcement; procedures; refinement

Anthrozoos: Volume 18, Issue 3

Publication date31/01/2005
PublisherBerg Publishers

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Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith
Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith

Professor, Psychology