A Few New Developments in Primate Housing and Husbandry
Over the last few decades of the 20th century, laboratory animal scientists have made considerable advances in the development of avast array of animal models. This has been especially true for the establishment of nonhuman primate models as research resources. For these species, standards of care and criteria for definition, in terms of immunological, behavioral, and genetic factors, have been significantly enhanced in just the last few years. While these advancements are important, they represent only the initial steps toward the levels of care and definition that will be required in the 21st century. This paper will present a brief discussion of the past achievements, current practices, and future aims related to the development of nonhuman primate research resources at one primate facility in the United States. The discussion will focus on the primate colonies at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC) and our efforts to continue to enhance the definition of our primates and the samples we obtain from them. This philosophy of continuous refinement and definition of nonhuman primate models for research applies to many, if not all, primate facilities in the international laboratory animal community.
A major focus of this paper will be to examine the complementary role that behavioral management strategies play in the establishment and enhancement of well-defined nonhuman primate research resources. I will mention the integral role of behavioral management in the development, maintenance, and enhancement of our rhesus macaque and chimpanzee breeding and research colonies. I will briefly describe why we converted our traditional rhesus monkey breeding colony into a Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) colony (Schapiro et al., 1994; Buchl et al., 1997). Our current efforts to further define the colony in ter s of MHC haplotypes (Doxiadis et al., 2000) and to breed for specific haplotypes, thereby making our colony Specific Haplotype Defined (SHD) in addition to SPF (using line breeding and potentially even embryo splitting techniques) will also be described. Additionally, I will discuss the use of positive reinforcement training techniques to obtain conscious and voluntary biological samples (blood samples) from chimpanzees. Conscious blood samples are obtained to improve welfare and to eliminate potential confounds related to unconsciousness, stress, and/or anesthetic agents, thereby enhancing the quality of the samples we use and thus the value of the research and the resource.