USDA Considering Petition to Establish New Standards for Primates Used in Research

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APHIS has received a petition requesting that we amend the Animal Welfare Act regulations to specify ethologically appropriate standards that researchers must adhere to in order to promote the psychological well-being of primates used in biomedical research.

As we consider this petition, we welcome comments from interested members of the public so we can determine the most appropriate response to the petitioner. In particular, we’re seeking responses to the following questions: 

• Should APHIS amend Section 3.81 of the Animal Welfare Act regulations: 1) to require research facilities to construct and maintain an ethologically appropriate environment for primates; and 2) to specify the minimum standards that must be met in order for an environment to be considered ethologically appropriate?

• What constitutes an ethologically appropriate environment for a primate? Does this differ among primate species? If so, how does it differ?

• Are there any environmental conditions that make an environment ethologically inappropriate for a primate? If so, what are they? Do they differ among primate species?

• Does an ethologically appropriate environment for primates that are used in research differ from an ethologically appropriate environment for primates that are sold or exhibited? If so, how does it differ?

• Who should make the determination regarding the ethological appropriateness of the environment for primates at a particular research facility – the attending veterinarian for the facility, APHIS, or both parties? If both parties should jointly make such a determination, which responsibilities should fall to the attending veterinarian, and which should fall to APHIS?

If you would like to provide us with your comments, please click on this link, which will bring you to Docket No. APHIS-2014-0098. The deadline to submit a comment is June 30, 2015. All comments are available for public viewing.

USDA Animal Care upholds and enforces the Animal Welfare Act. This federal law and its associated regulations set the standards for humane care and treatment that must be provided for certain animals that are: exhibited to the public; bred for commercial sale; used in biomedical research; or transported commercially. Entities using regulated animals for regulated purposes must, among other things, provide adequate housing, sanitation, nutrition, water and veterinary care, and they must protect their animals from extreme weather and temperatures.

Please note: Posting a petition for public comment does not imply that we will launch the federal rulemaking process to amend the Animal Welfare Act regulations.

At USDA Animal Care, ensuring the welfare of the animals we regulate is at the heart of everything we do.