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What factors should determine cage sizes for primates in the laboratory?

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It is imperative to provide adequate quantity and quality of space for all captive animals. Yet practically all guidelines on the housing of primates in the laboratory specify minimum cage sizes based solely on body weight. We argue that no single factor, such as body weight, is sufficient to determine cage size. Instead a suite of characteristics should be used that include morphometric, physiological, ecological, locomotor, social, reproductive and behavioural characteristics. Ideally, the primate's age, sex and individual history should also be taken into account. In this paper we compare this suite of characteristics for some commonly used primates whose weights overlap, to illustrate important differences amongst them. For good animal welfare and good quality science it is necessary to be sensitive to such species differences when determining suitable cage sizes.
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Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; ARBOREALITY; BREEDING SUCCESS; COLONY MANAGEMENT; PRIMATE; SPECIES-SPECIFIC NEEDS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-02-01

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