Experts in primate behaviour have come together to develop a new online resource set to improve captive primate welfare. The collaboration between primatologists at LJMU and the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) will enable existing and new staff to better recognise, interpret and respond appropriately to macaque communication signals. Through this online resource, improvements in animal care will lead to healthier animals whose social needs are met and better research outcomes for scientists.
Dr Emily Bethell, LJMU Senior Lecturer in Primate Behaviour, who worked alongside LJMU Post-Doctoral Researcher Dr Caralyn Kemp for the University’s part in the project, commented:
"Until a day when we can replace the use of macaques in research, we need to ensure that those animals that are used are given the best quality of life possible. A key role of the educational programmes we run at LJMU is to raise awareness of these issues in the next generation of young scientists. This website is a unique resource that will assist research and animal care staff to make the most effective and far-reaching improvements in primate welfare."
Dr Mark Prescott, primatologist and Head of Research Management and Policy at the NC3Rs, said:
"The Macaque Website covers the life history of rhesus and cynomolgus macaques, their behaviour such as postures, expressions and vocalisations, captive management such as housing, enrichment, feeding, and training, plus tools for welfare assessment. Our aim in developing the site was not to provide a manual on macaque care and use, but instead to inspire, educate and share information to improve the welfare of these animals in laboratories worldwide."
The Macaque Website is a free resource for students, researchers, and everyone who works with laboratory macaques, including animal technicians, facility managers, veterinarians, policy makers and IACUC/AWERB (institutional ethics committee) members. Students interested in a career in primate behaviour, welfare and conservation should check out LJMU’s new MSc programme: Primate Behaviour and Conservation. LJMU is also launching an MSc in Wildlife Conservation and UAV Technology