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Keywords:

  • psychological well-being;
  • environmental enrichment;
  • cage size;
  • rhesus macaque

Abstract

Newly proposed federal regulations will mandate that singly caged non-human primates be kept in cages larger than the current minimum standard, or be given 4 hours in an exercise cage per week. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of increasing cage size in improving well-being, the behavioral and heart rate responses of 10 female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) to three different cage sizes were measured. With the exception of vocalizations, no significant differences in behavior were obtained. Grunts increased in the largest cage, following the birth of an infant in a cage within view of the test cages. No differences with respect to cage size were found in heart rate or activity level, although there were significant variations at different times of day. We conclude that modest increases in cage size are less likely to enrich the environment of singly caged laboratory primates than are changes in social opportunities or increases in environmental complexity.