Training to cooperate during
blood collection (photos 73-79)
||Photos 73*-75*: Practical evidence questions
the conventional wisdom that "adult male rhesus monkeys
are aggressive animals and very difficult to handle" and,
therefore, that "experimental manipulations necessarily
involve the use of restraint procedures, either chemical or physical"
[Wickings & Nieschlag, 1980].
Here an adult rhesus male who has been trained with a simple
positive reinforcement technique to actively cooperate during
blood collection in his familiar home cage [Reinhardt, 1991d,
This procedure is absolutely safe for the handling
person, because the male has no reason to aggressively defend
himself (photos 73 & 74).
Cooperation is always reinforced with a favored food reward (photo
Photo 76: Training rhesus macaques here
another adult male to cooperate during in-home-cage venipuncture
increases the validity of research data collected because it
helps to avoid undue excitation and associated alteration in
basal physiology of the research subject.
With the refined blood collection technique the experimental
monkey can easily be handled by one person, whereas conventional
techniques usually require two or three people to control the
resisting animal (cf. photo 71 & 72; Reinhardt, 1996).
| Once trained, a monkey will cooperate
with any person who is experienced in working with rhesus macaques
[Reinhardt, 1991d, 1992a].
It has been argued that "monkeys can be trained to offer
their arms or legs for blood collection with positive reinforcement,
but this requires a considerable amount of time and dedicated
staff" [Hrapkiewicz et al., 1998]. It is true that dedicated
staff is needed to establish and foster a trustful relationship
with the animals in order to create a safe work environment for
The time investment for the actual training, however, does not
have to be "considerable".
In a study with 10 pair-housed and 5 single-housed
adult rhesus males an average of 13 three-minute training sessions
were necessary to ensure that individuals voluntarily present
a leg and display no resistance during in-home-cage blood collection
[Reinhardt, 1991d]. Total cumulative time spent with a male ranged
from 16 to 74 minutes, with a mean of 40 minutes (pair-housed
males 39 min; single-housed males 44 min).
This report clearly describes the steps of the training
Photos 77 & 78: "Considerable amount of time"
is, indeed, required when the trainees are not adults but juveniles.
The youngsters have difficulties to overcome their natural fear
of people and, therefore, tend to stubbornly resist cooperation
Photo 79: Sharing the same roots makes it easy for any compassionate
human primate to make life easier for a nonhuman
primate subjected to biomedical research.
This applies particularly to veterinarians: "While
we pledge to take responsibility for the welfare of animals,
we also vow to use scientific knowledge and skills for the advancement
of medical knowledge. The wise composer of this oath saw no conflict
between relieving animal suffering and advancing science. Indeed
there is none" [Schwindaman, 1991].