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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Ethical and Welfare Implications of the Acquisition and Transport of Non-human Primates for Use in Research and Testing


Mark J. Prescott and Maggy Jennings

Assessment of the ethical and welfare implications of any laboratory animal use should encompass the entire life-history of the animals concerned, including their acquisition and transport. This is particularly important in the case of non-human primates, because the acquisition of some species involves capture from the wild, inadequate husbandry, and/or lengthy, multistaged travel from the country of origin to the laboratory where they are used. Thus, non-human primates endure considerable harms even before they reach the laboratory. Despite this, the information necessary to increase awareness of, and to assess, the potential harms of acquisition and transport is not readily available. This paper highlights the ethical and welfare concerns associated with these processes and makes recommendations intended to reduce their impact on welfare. The information presented is collated from a recent report that analyses the UK trade in non-human primates for research and testing, but many of the concerns and recommendations are applicable in an international forum. The need to minimise suffering is emphasised, as is the need for critical review of the necessity and justification for all nonhuman primate use, a reduction in the numbers used, and the development of alternatives to replace their use.