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Crane points to SNBL’s stamp of approval from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care as evidence of ethical practices inside. The nonprofit promotes humane treatment of animals in scientific research.

“An AAALAC accreditation basically means you know how to take care of your animals,” Crane said.

In addition to the benefit of a full veterinary hospital, SNBL employs what it describes as “animal enrichment” programs to ensure captive charges don’t become bored.

Monkey housing includes swings, toys and connections to other cages for socializing.

Animal caretakers learn the differences in what pleases a mouse as opposed to a rat. Mice receive cotton squares for building burrow nests while rats enjoy chew toys. SNBL employs someone full time to come up with entertainment for the animals.

The procedure for entering an animal room includes suiting up in a lab coat, protective glasses, a face shield, latex gloves and a hair net.

Before walking into a space with about two dozen caged monkeys, Rose warned that the primates might react with fear because they recognize him as the one with the needles. Instead, the monkeys came forward in their cages.

“They’re curious. They’re not afraid,” Crane said. The monkeys chattered at him for treats.

In the wild, monkeys forage for their food and have to hide from predators. Here, Crane said, the monkeys receive a variety of food, including popcorn, pickles, nuts and fresh produce such as carrots, potatoes, grapes, apples and, of course, bananas. The primates also eat monkey chow, which Purina makes specifically for animals in research. They are also given treats, such as Fruit Loops.

The food is often put into toys or pieces of turf to simulate the monkeys’ natural foraging experience. The people at SNBL do everything they can to keep the monkeys happy, Rose said.

“These monkeys in cages are actually saving human lives - a lot of them,” he said.


Information from: The Daily Herald,