I am pleased that the NIH is convening a workshop on primate research. I ask that the workshop organizers consider including an agenda item related to the retirement of nonhuman primates to sanctuaries after they have been used in research. I have long been troubled by the fact that in nearly all protocols involving primates, the animals are euthanized—even in cases where the animals’ tissues will not be harvested for analysis following the experiments. It seems that euthanasia is carried out as a matter of expedience, without consideration to the fact that the primates involved could be retired to a sanctuary. At sanctuaries, monkeys would be permitted to enjoy the rest of their days living in socially and environmentally enriched environments, just being monkeys. While relocating nonhuman primates to sanctuaries after they have served in research is the ethically appropriate action in cases where there is no scientific justification for euthanizing the animals at the termination of the experiments, this approach also benefits the morale of laboratory staff and researchers. Grant proposals should include funds for the eventual retirement of monkeys; and the NIH should develop policies aimed at ensuring that costs associated with retiring monkeys to sanctuaries are included in allocated grants.
Kerwin, A. M. (2006). Overcoming the barriers to the retirement of old and New World monkeys from research facilities. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 9(4), 337-347.
Dr. Nora J. Johnson, MBA, MS, Psy.D., University of Pennsylvania