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, 1996].

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 75).






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 training.
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 procedure.

 

 

 


 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 [Reinhardt, 1992d].






 

 


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].


  Feeding Enrichment (photos 80-92)

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