In accordance with the 1985 amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (P.L. 99-198, The Food Security Act), the Plan for Environmental Enhancement and Behavioral Management for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette New Iberia Research Center is designed to promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates (NHPs). The enhancement procedures have been developed to address the social needs of each species and to provide enrichment in order to encourage and enable the expression of species-appropriate behaviors. Behavioral management techniques are employed to identify behavioral pathology and implement treatment and prevention strategies.
The aim of this plan is to provide an environment suitable for the expression of a broad range of species-appropriate behaviors, including social interactions, locomotion, foraging, and manipulation. It also seeks to minimize negative and self-injurious behaviors, such as excessive aggression, self-wounding, and stereotypic behaviors. The plan seeks to avoid stressful events such as unpredictable activities associated with husbandry and experimental procedures. The Plan seeks to provide the animals with an enriched environment that enhances tactile, visual, olfactory, auditory, and gustatory sensations. The environment will allow each animal the opportunity to experience novelty and exert some degree of control as appropriate for that species. Finally, the plan will promote species-appropriate development.
In accordance with the guide, the plan for Environmental Enhancement and Behavioral Management provides for the social housing of all species of NHPs at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette New Iberia Research Center. Guidelines for the introduction of animals to pair or group housing and for the removal of animals from pair or group housing (e.g. because of disease, aggression, or experimental protocol) are designed to ensure group compatibility.
Various types of primary enclosures are utilized for social housing at the center, all of which provide means of expressing species appropriate activities. Though social housing is the standard practice, some circumstances may require animals to be singly housed. In such cases, cage complexities, additional forage or sensory enrichment, and positive human interaction are provided for all singly-housed animals.
All nonhuman primates are provided with species appropriate opportunities to forage in order to:
- Increase the processing time of food items
- Stimulate the senses by providing novel foods
- Add novelty by varying the availability of food in time and space
In addition to foraging opportunities, each animal will be provided with a range of species- and age-appropriate objects to manipulate and explore. These items may include commercially available toys, buckets, milk crates, barrels, plastic containers, frozen items (e.g. fruit juice, ice blocks), blankets, stuffed animals, sheets, burlap sacks, wood, and foraging devices designed by staff.
Special Consideration for Infants & Juveniles
The institution acknowledges that maternal rearing of infants is the ideal strategy for social development of infants and young juveniles. However, nursery rearing may become necessary due to illness, maternal rejection, neglect, abuse, or requirements of scientific protocols. If maternal factors are involved, all attempts will be made to place infants with suitable surrogates. Should nursery rearing become necessary, guidelines for the promotion of species-appropriate development are followed to promote species appropriate behavior.
All infants will be provided with species and age appropriate space, cage complexities (e.g. perches, shelves, hiding boxes, swings, ropes, or ladders), and manipulanda (e.g. toys, mirrors). At a species-appropriate age, infants are grouped with peers or placed with compatible social groups containing adults. Nursery staff are trained in strategies for the promotion and enhancement of species-specific development.
Positive Reinforcement Training
The Center recognizes the benefits of positive reinforcement training in promoting animal well-being. Positive reinforcement techniques rely on the voluntary cooperation of animals and does not require food or water deprivation.
Behavioral coordinators train and assist staff members in positive reinforcement training techniques. These techniques are essential to reduce stereotypic and aggressive behavior, and to reduce stress during routine husbandry, veterinary, and diagnostic procedures.