Regardless of ‘enrichment’, non-human primates have diminished well-being and welfare in captivity, resulting in substantive and confounding effects on data derived from them. Nevertheless, if it can be proved that the information applies to human beings, the validation methods used would entirely supplant the need for research in non-human primates.
We need to place greater emphasis on the study of human beings using nature’s ‘experiments’ as our laboratory. Moreover, understanding the human brain requires direct communication, not likely with other primates. The considerable success and importance of human studies is unequivocal. We are limited only by our willingness, resources and commitment to expand on such studies. We should not divert these to non-human primate studies.
The primary issue is one of morality. Scientific rigor and practicality would demand the use human beings for this research, even if detrimental to a few, because this would provide us with far greater and more rapid benefits than relying on questionable non-human primate data. To subject human beings, however, to what we do to other primates would be immoral. It is precisely for the same reasons it must be considered immoral in the case of non-human primates. We find it morally repugnant to do certain things to human beings despite the potential for enormous benefits. We should find it equally repugnant in the case of other primates. If we use our intelligence and considerable talents compassionately, we can find ways to answer the questions we have without harming and killing those individuals.
-Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D.