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The lives of primates whose bodies are used in laboratory tests are anything but pretty. Thankfully, there are some lucky primates who have managed to escape this fate and find their happy endings, but the majority of these lab animals have nothing to look forward to but a life of anxiety, confinement, and indignity until the day they die.

Primates in laboratory tests typically experience very little legal protection. However, a coalition of animal protection groups – including the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA), the Laboratory Primate Advocacy Group (LPAG), and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) – are now aiming to change that. They have teamed up to urge the USDA to strengthen regulations aimed at protecting the psychological well-being of primates used in biomedical research, through their new Rulemaking Petition.

In a press release passed on to OGP, NEAVS president Theodora Capaldo said, “As it stands, the language safeguarding monkeys’ psychological well-being is vague with limited enforcement power. We are asking that the USDA define criteria for psychological well-being with sufficient teeth to truly protect and end the kind of horrible conditions monkeys by the tens of thousands must now endure.”

NAPSA executive director Sarah Baeckler added that “lab monkeys commonly suffer such symptoms as self-mutilation, endless spinning in tiny cages, and other abnormal behaviors often tolerated as ‘typical’ monkey behavior. (We) know the long and demanding process it takes to restore primates’ psychological health, and also know that preventing such harm in the first place is the most important way to help them.”

The Animal Welfare Act that currently covers the treatment of primates and other animals used in research labs requires facilities to provide for the animals’ “psychological well-being,” but the Act’s definition of what this “well-being” entails is vague, thereby leaving it open to each individual lab to decide. Without clear guidelines or criteria to follow, USDA lab inspectors are usually unable to enforce the “psychological well-being” requirement, even when it is clear that primates are being abused and neglected.

The Rulemaking Petition asks the USDA to address the issue promptly, so that the estimated 107,000 primates currently housed in laboratories will be granted the legal protection they deserve.

To find out how you can help, visit NEAVS’ donation and volunteering page, LPAG’s donation page, NAPSA’s information page, or ALDF’s campaign or donation page.

Image source: Mariya Prokopyuk/Flickr

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