Rhesus macaque care and photos

Though the monkeys at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center participate in different research projects, all receive daily care from veterinarians and behaviorists focused on enrichment and oversight of the animals’ clinical and behavioral welfare.

The veterinary staff directs the daily care, feeding, and husbandry of center animals, and engaging in health testing, vaccinations, and treatment of any injuries. Veterinarians are also responsible for procedures, housing, and the clinical nursery in which infant monkeys may be raised.

The primate center’s behavioral services team directs efforts to promote psychological well-being for the colony. Animals are provided with environmental enrichment and cognitive engagement via toys and puzzles, as well as fresh fruit, vegetables and other varied foods in foraging puzzles. The behavioral services team also supports socialization in the monkey colony, facilitating and maintaining compatible social pairs and groups of monkeys. Cognitive engagement, exercise opportunities, and socialization are promoted by continuing refinement of housing. The behavioral services team also advises the clinical nursery veterinary and care staff, providing specialty expertise for the cognitive, motor, and social needs of infant monkeys as they develop.

The clinical nursery provides care and developmental needs of infant primates that are ill or are rejected by their mothers, as can also happen in the wild. The first priority for these animals is to make sure they are healthy. In the first month of life, it is critical to monitor temperature regulation, feeding and normal bodily functions. Healthy infant monkeys are reintroduced to their mothers or foster mothers, if possible. Infants that must remain in the nursery are paired with a similarly aged peer.

As the infants mature, their motor, perceptual and social development are supported through the results of decades of scientific research and best practices. Development is promoted with play cage sessions in which monkeys interact in a play environment that contains colorful toy and climbing structures. The monkeys’ nutritional and medical needs, as well as human contact, are provided by daily care and interaction by dedicated nursery staff who feed, monitor, clean, and care for the infants.