(ANIMAL TESTING/PRIMATES) A coalition of animal rights groups are working to enforce regulations for the psychological well-being of monkeys and apes used in biomedical research facilities.

The Rulemaking Petition urges the USDA to consider how non-human primates are extremely intelligent beings who need socialization and companionship in order to survive. Years of scientific research confirms that without companionship and mental stimulation, monkeys and other apes may experience ‘severe distress and disturbing symptoms’ while in captivity.

The Animal Welfare Act currently allows for individual labs to determine the proper levels of ‘psychological well-being’ for their non-human primates. The Rulemaking Petition wants to set a standard for all laboratories to ensure primates receive adequate treatment. Continue reading for more on the petition. — Global Animal

The Humane Society of the United States saved Arden and a number of chimps from captivity.
Arden the chimp is now safe at Chimp Haven after growing up in a research lab. Photo Credit: Chimp Haven

Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)

BOSTON, Mass., and PORTLAND, Ore. – May 7, 2014 – A coalition of animal protection groups including the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, the Laboratory Primate Advocacy Group, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish clear and enforceable regulations for the psychological well-being of monkeys and apes used in biomedical research laboratories.

The Rulemaking Petition submitted to the agency includes the declarations of primate experts, studies on primate well-being and lab stress, and extensive documentation showing non-human primates have a strong need for companionship and mental stimulation which, when not met, result in severe distress and disturbing symptoms. The petition asks the USDA to establish criteria for social housing, environmental enhancement, access to the outdoors, opportunities for choice and self-determination within the limitations of captivity, and other enrichment.

The Animal Welfare Act currently covering the treatment of animals in labs and other licensed facilities requires labs to provide for “psychological well-being,” but leaves the determination of this up to the individual lab. The Petition cites numerous USDA inspection reports stating labs do not adequately address, and sometimes even ignore, the psychological distress of monkeys. Without specific guidelines, USDA inspectors are unable to adequately enforce this requirement, and often unable to properly identify monkeys in distress or take appropriate corrective action – resulting in monkeys and apes suffering severe, often irreversible, psychological harm.

Today’s petition asks the USDA to address these standards for psychological well-being for lab monkeys and other nonhuman primates – in the same way the National Institutes of Health did for chimpanzees in 2013, when it established strict guidelines for providing appropriate housing for those remaining in labs following its landmark decision to retire nearly 90 percent of its chimpanzees from research.

“Common sense and scientific research itself shows that monkeys suffer the same psychological traumas in labs as do chimpanzees, and therefore require and deserve the same minimal lab conditions the NIH now requires for chimpanzees,” said NEAVS President Theodora Capaldo, EdD. “As it stands, the language safeguarding monkeys’ psychological well-being is vague with limited enforcement power. We are asking that the USDA define criteria for psychological well-being with sufficient teeth to truly protect and end the kind of horrible conditions monkeys by the tens of thousands must now endure.

Monkeys and other primates are shipped from across the world to endure experimentation, including the injection of harmful chemicals. Photo Credit: PETA
Monkeys and other primates are shipped from across the world to endure experimentation at various biomedical research labs. Photo Credit: PETA

“Lab monkeys commonly suffer such symptoms as self-mutilation, endless spinning in tiny cages, and other abnormal behaviors often tolerated as ‘typical’ monkey behavior,” said NAPSA executive director Sarah Baeckler, J.D. “Our member sanctuaries providing lifetime care for monkeys and chimpanzees rescued or retired from research know the long and demanding process it takes to restore primates’ psychological health, and also know that preventing such harm in the first place is the most important way to help them.”

“The USDA has the power and the responsibility to address the overly vague, inadequate, and unenforceable standards of care that have resulted in prolonged suffering of captive lab monkeys,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF. “We ask the USDA to consider the best interest of monkeys, its own inspectors, the laboratories, and the public, which expects and relies upon the agency to ensure the best possible treatment of animals in labs.”

Based on annual reports by research facilities, there are more than 107,000 non-human primates currently in laboratories.

Copy of the Original Petition

More ALDF: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-advocates-petition-usda-for-better-regulation-of-non-human-primates-in-laboratories/

More NEAVS: http://www.neavs.org/

More NAPSA: http://www.primatesanctuaries.org

More LPAG: http://www.lpag.org