Principles and guidelines for the care and use of non-human primates for scientific purposes

Marcello Rosa, Rachel Borg

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The care and use of non-human primates for scientific purposes must be conducted in accordance with the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (the Code) and relevant Commonwealth, state and territory legislation, and must be ethically reviewed and approved by an institutional animal ethics committee (AEC). Many of the concerns associated with the use of non-human primates are common to those associated with the use of other sentient animals: the potential for pain, suffering or distress as a result of the impact of scientific procedures, the level of confinement experienced in a research setting, and the killing of animals for the purpose of the research. However, the use of non-human primates for scientific purposes also raises special ethical and welfare issues over and above these issues. The primary reason that some non-human primates are used as an animal model in biomedical research is their close phylogenetic relationship to humans, which often translates into unique characteristics that are difficult to adequately study in other models. However, it is precisely because of these similarities that they are the subject of special concern. The complex and highly social behaviour and advanced cognitive capacity of many non-human primates make it difficult to adequately provide for their needs in a captive environment or research setting. In addition, many non-human primates have long lifespans and are often used in long-term research programs or re-used in multiple experiments over the course of their lives, presenting additional challenges for their care and welfare. Consequently, there is concern that the compromise to their life associated with their confinement and use in scientific research may cause greater psychological suffering than with other species. The Australian breeding colonies were established to centralise breeding, provide a consistently high standard of animal care and management, and to allow access to non-human primates for research. Colonies currently exist for macaques (Macaca nemestrina and Macaca fascicularis), marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and baboons (Papio hamadryas).
Original languageEnglish
TypeNHMRC Guidelines
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)9781925129687
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

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