The WaNPRC Behavioral Management Services (BMS) program was established in 1997 as a division within Primate Resources. The BMS program has several areas of responsibility related to the goal of promoting primate BMS and works closely with veterinary, husbandry, and research staff. The 1985 Amendment to the Animal Welfare Act mandated Environmental Enhancement Plans to “promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates.” A committee formed by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that psychological well-being is enhanced by:
- Appropriate social companionship
- Opportunities to engage in behavior related to foraging, exploration, and other activities appropriate to the species, age, sex, and condition of the animals
- Housing that permits suitable postural and locomotor expression
- Interactions with personnel that are generally positive and not a source of unnecessary stress
- Freedom from unnecessary pain and distress
The role of the BMS is to support and promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates housed at the Washington National Primate Research Center. This program is a highly integrated, innovative program directly involved in the daily care and maintenance of every nonhuman primate housed at the Center.
Psychologically healthy laboratory monkeys are better research subjects, and the psychological-behavioral component of overall well-being merits a dedicated program.
BMS oversees the implementation of the Federally required UW Environmental Enhancement Plan. As authorized by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), BMS ensures that all research projects have Environmental Enhancement Plan forms specifying the enrichment details for the project. Enrichment elements include social contact, toys, perches, food treats, foraging experiences, and various enrichment devices. For more information on environmental enrichment, click here. Another important function of BMS is attending to the psychological-behavioral health of WaNPRC’s monkeys.
Monkeys with special needs are given extra enrichment and other consideration. Social housing is the most effective form of environmental enrichment as measured by promoting normal behavior and preventing abnormal behavior and other markers of poor psychological well-being. Finding compatible partners for laboratory monkeys is a major emphasis of BMS staff. Another component of the BMS Program is research. BMS contributes to currently accepted professional standards by publishing research on psychological well-being and environmental enrichment.