Behavioural management is a holistic method for improving animal care and welfare, which integrates species-appropriate facility design, husbandry, environmental enrichment, animal training, and behavioural assessment. A comprehensive behavioural management programme is key for the psychological well-being of non-human primates.
Behavioural management practices at the US national primate research centres have been documented in 2003 and 2014, but there has been no international survey. In 2019 we launched a new collaboration with the Tulane National Primate Research Center to document changes in behavioural management over time and to generate an evidence base to inform and support good practice in this area. More than 60 facilities from 12 countries responded, encompassing over 53,000 NHPs. The data are being analysed and prepared for publication.
The findings show that there is large variation in NHP behavioural management practices internationally, with the UK at the forefront of best practice in many aspects. The latter largely reflects the impact of the coordinated and collaborative approach, involving funders and users, led by the NC3Rs. Importantly, the data demonstrate that, with the right knowledge and sufficient resources, perceived constraints on key elements of behavioural management, can be overcome to improve animal welfare and facilitate good science.