The Biomedical Primate Research Institute is a scientific research institute committed to biomedical research on life-threatening or debilitating diseases for man. BPRC contributes to the identification and development of new therapies and medicines. BPRC uses non-human primates for this critical research only when there are no suitable alternatives. In addition, BPRC has an active and expanding program to develop alternatives, following the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement.
BPRC obtains the animals for its research from our own breeding colonies. Research facilities and animal breeding are housed at the same location to prevent the necessity for long travel, to ensure healthy and robust animals and to start training of animals to limit stress as much as possible. A dedicated and highly trained staff takes care of all animals.
The optimal animal welfare of the animals in our research institute is emphasized by visits of many researchers, animal caretakers and animal trainers from all over the world to receive training at our facilities and our welfare accreditations (AAALAC, OLAW). As long as it fits within our rules and the European and Dutch laws and regulations, we gladly meet these requests and offer these guest-employees those possibilities.
We explain and show our guests all details of our work: how it is performed, how our research is reviewed and investigated before we get approval to start the research, and how we make every effort to ensure the welfare of our animals. We explain what benefit our research has to offer to both human and animal health and discuss the difficult considerations that we regularly have to make. We sometimes experience a lack of knowledge about our work and about how we perform our work in the most careful way possible and we gladly answer critical questions.
In addition, BPRC regularly receives requests from the writing or filming press. A good example is the extensive documentary that was made by Vice, which gives a fair and realistic view on our work. The BBC has recently made such a report as well. We aim to be fully transparent and to present things in the right context is highly important and valuable for us. Unfortunately, in some cases our work is presented completely out of context, without explanation or with incorrect information. For example, people or reporters publish photos that have not been made at the BPRC or have become outdated. We regret that this happens, especially because it shows a very distorted picture of what we do and how our work is done. Another example is the recent film made by a foreign veterinarian. This veterinarian from a primate rescue centre requested to be trained in our facility and was our guest in 2017. She was provided the opportunity to take part in all procedures in our institute and to be trained in them. In the mean time she used a hidden camera. Beyond the fact that the methodology used is far from correct, the particular video contains a lot of incorrect information, most parts are taken fully out of context and false information is provided. Below is a brief explanation of how things are displayed in a false context by this person who has filmed with a hidden camera and has now uploaded this in a compilation to the internet.
BPRC has its own breeding colonies where animals are kept in large social groups under conditions as natural as possible. Once a year all animals in the colonies are checked by our veterinarians to ensure that they are healthy and in a good condition and/or to treat them if necessary. This means that all animals within one group receive a full physical exam under anesthesia. For the animal, the procedure is of course is tedious and stressful, and therefore all animals of a group are subjected to this procedure on the same day. In some cases, an animal gets an injury or a prolapse because of the stress. The veterinarian checks if and how they need to treat this and what is the best for the animal. All procedures, e.g. checking for tuberculosis, taking some blood samples and setting a tattoo for identification if it is not there yet are performed under anesthesia that provides both sedation and pain relieve. After the animals have undergone all checks, they are placed back into their own cage in order to wake up in a familiar environment. Just after waking up they are groggy and sometimes fall when they try to climb. This does not hurt the animals and in addition they are regularly visually checked by the caretakers. This is much less stressful for the animals compared to waking up in a separate small cage in an unfamiliar environment and reintroduced into their group thereafter. The caretakers performing these checks and procedures sometimes make a joke or sing along with the radio, and then again continue their work being very focused that day in one room for several hours. In contrast to what is suggested, all animal caretakers and the veterinarians are very concerned about their animals. In the video a euthanasia of a monkey is shown in the presence of other animals. When animals have to be euthanized in the context of an experiment, this always takes place in a special room, unless this is not possible. This can be when they are infected with a highly contagious disease, as was the case in this example.
Despite the activities by this veterinarian that was trained by us, we will remain to grant everyone with genuine interest in our work access on our premises, to provide training on care and housing of non-human primates and to discuss and explain why this research is necessary. We also will show them our commitment to animal welfare.