[Update 6/29/15: The deadline has been extended to August 31, 2015, 11:59 PM! There’s still time to file a comment on the government Web site!]
You have a unique opportunity to make life better for lab monkeys!
There are an estimated 110,000 monkeys living in U.S. research facilities. Of course, we feel they don’t belong there—but they still need our help until we can get them out.
The well-being of these lab primates is in the hands of the Animal Welfare Act (as amended in 1985). However, the outdated AWA only mandates minimal standards of care, and even these, many claim, have not been well enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A coalition of animal protection groups has offered the USDA a petition requesting a regulatory update to the AWA. The “Petition to Develop Specific Ethologically Appropriate Standards for Nonhuman Primates in Research” would force the USDA to insist on better care for lab monkeys. IPPL filed a formal declaration of support to this petition when it was originally submitted last year.
If adopted, the new regulations would promote basic humane measures that are appropriate to the psychological needs of the various monkey species housed in labs. Such measures would include group housing (instead of keeping monkeys in isolation for years) and allowing infants to remain with their mothers until weaning (instead of being pulled not long after birth).
The public comment period on this Rulemaking Petition ends June 30. Please add your voice today in support of new regulations that have the potential to reduce the amount of suffering experienced by captive primates!
Here are some sample talking points that you may wish to use. These are based on some concerns that have been raised by the USDA or by other petition supporters. Since the USDA will likely delete identical comments, please edit freely!
- Monkeys are intelligent, group-living animals, just like humans, and need to be housed with others of their kind in order to maintain their physical and psychological well-being.
- Monkeys living in captivity deserve an enriched, stimulating environment where they can freely carry out natural behaviors. Decisions about the appropriate level of enrichment should not be simply left to the laboratory veterinarians, as such decisions have in the past; house vets may well have an inherent conflict of interest, leading them to wish to minimize costs for their employer.
- It is in everyone’s best interests to maintain monkeys in a way that is most beneficial to their optimal health and psychological well-being. Monkeys that are perpetually stressed provide only compromised data that will jeopardize the reliability of any research done with them.
- It is essential that the USDA promote broadly appropriate standards of care that are generally enforceable and not simply continue to allow individual research institutions to create their own standards of enrichment, a situation that only encourages a minimalistic approach to primate care.
We have made great strides in recent years getting chimps out of research and improving their lives in captivity: now at last it’s the monkeys’ turn! Until we see the day when there are NO primates in labs, we owe it to the monkeys to give them the best life possible under the circumstances. Please comment today!