Animal welfare and constant improvement of welfare where possible is one of the key issues for BPRC. One of the essential points for optimal welfare is the ability for an animal to exhibit species-specific and natural behaviour. The BPRC uses several means to meet the demands of the animals.
A large investment by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science enabled the BPRC to design together with animal welfare experts new large breeding facilities. Besides the breeding facilities, this funding also allowed BPRC to design and build new cages for the experimental facilities in such as way that all animals are socially housed. BPRC also employs animal behaviour experts that are involved in all housing aspects and composition of the social groups.
Besides large housing facilities one of the other options to provide optimisation of welfare conditions is environmental and food enrichment. BPRC uses a variety of permanent enrichment tools such as hoses, wooden beams for sitting and climbing and construction of different levels. There is also roulation of other items such as mirrors, rattles and kong toys. BPRC also uses food enrichment. All animals in the experimental facilities receive food enrichment daily. This varies from ice creams with hidden items like grains or raisins to food puzzles. BPRC strives to provide enrichment during the whole day for each animal as much as possible. Therefore, BPRC has demands regarding the various enrichment programs, which have been developed for the different species. To make this easy, BPRC in collaboration with EUPRIM-NET has developed the “Enrichment Manual for macaques and marmosets”. This is also freely available for external parties (). This manual describes the various forms of enrichment, including recipes, that are used at the BPRC for the different species.
Earlier, various organisations have provided material for enrichment, such as old tennis balls, hoses, ropes etc. These materials were provided by organisations such as schools, sports clubs and fire brigades. BPRC still appreciates gifts for the enrichment fund. For contact, please see Contact & Route.
In scientific research facilities, animal training is increasingly being used for scientific, veterinary and animal management to refine and facilitate procedures for both animal and human. BPRC also uses animal training as part of their enrichment program (see above). By learning animals to voluntarily cooperate during specific procedures, situations and acts become much more predictable for them, leading to stress reduction and hence welfare improvement. BPRC uses Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT) where preferred behaviour is rewarded and undesirable behaviour is ignored. This method is based on the natural ability of animals to learn by experience (operant conditioning) en is very effective. As tools, rewards (e.g. peanuts, raisins), clickers and targets are used.
The enrichment and training programs, together with the implementation of a complete program for the social housing of all animals, have a central place in the BPRC.