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USDA Petition for Psychological Well-Being

UPDATE: NEAVS is excited to report the USDA responded within weeks after submitting that the issue is "important" and it will be seeking public comment. This is the response we were looking for and it pushes our campaign forward. Learn how you can offically add your voice and take action.

Monkeys and other nonhuman primates continue to suffer severe emotional stress despite a law requiring laboratories to provide for their social, emotional, and mental needs. NEAVS, the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA), the Laboratory Primate Advocacy Group (LPAG), and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) submitted a Rulemaking Petition urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce this law.

The Rulemaking Petition provides the USDA with evidence of monkeys suffering in laboratories and suffering symptoms of psychological breakdowns. Without specific guidelines, USDA inspectors are often unable to properly identify monkeys in distress or take appropriate corrective action – resulting in monkeys and apes suffering severe, often irreversible, psychological harm. The Petition urges the USDA to adopt similar standards for the psychological well-being for all monkeys and other nonhuman primates as the National Institutes of Health adopted for chimpanzees. For example, the USDA should require that laboratories provide all nonhuman primates with social housing, access to the outdoors, and opportunities for choice and mental stimulation.

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Please add your name to the letter of support below

Subject: Please Follow NIH's Footsteps in Clarifying Regulations for Primate Well-Being

We, the undersigned, fully support the Rulemaking Petition filed by 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) requesting the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to exercise authority under the Animal Welfare Act to issue clear standards and definitions to promote psychological well-being and more appropriate environments for primates used in research. Current regulations allow facilities to develop their own “plan” for environmental enhancement “adequate to promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates.” This current requirement is so vague that it lacks any enforceable definition of how to evaluate if such a plan is actually effectively designed or implemented in a way that promotes the primates’ psychological well-being.

On June 26, 2013 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) accepted recommendations of an NIH-convened Council of Councils (CoC) concerning the ethologically appropriate environment for chimpanzees used in NIH-funded research. The new NIH recommendations incorporate a preponderance of evidence from some of the world’s leading experts on chimpanzee well-being. These recommendations present a substantiated and clear definition of key components of what is necessary to promote the psychological well-being for primates – e.g., social housing, environmental enhancement, access to the outdoors, and opportunities for choice and self-determination within the limitations of captivity. 

We join NEAVS, NAPSA, LPAG, and ALDF in urging the USDA to:

1) Include in AWA implementing regulations the NIH-accepted recommendations for ethologically appropriate environments for chimpanzees as accepted by NIH;

2) Adopt clear regulations for ethologically appropriate environments for all primates using NIH’s recommendations for such environments for chimpanzees as a baseline, with species-specific modifications for other primates, and; 

3) Adopt regulations for determining how and when chimpanzees and other primates exhibit psychological distress and what “special attention” must be brought to bear to ameliorate these symptoms. 

We urge you to take these actions as a significant clarification of needed definition for AWA regulations for psychological well-being. Thank you.

Sincerely,

 


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