‘It's like a zoo in here’
This week, Dutch children's TV programme Zapp Buitendienst is zooming in on animal experiments. That's something we at BPRC know all about. Series presenters Nienke and Sosha came to visit and took a look behind the scenes so they could give their viewers the full story. This episode of the popular kid's show aired Friday March 22 on NPO 3 at 5:45 pm.
In the upcoming episode, Nienke and Sosha want to show viewers between the ages of nine and twelve what animal testing involves and especially why it's done. Our colleague Babs, who is a researcher at BPRC, was the lucky designated tour guide for the Buitendienst crew – a job she was eager to do.
‘Even today, you hear all kinds of crazy stories about primate research’, Babs explains. ‘That can make it a challenge to talk about my job. Whereas in casual conversation other people can talk at length about the work they do, I tend to be very careful about what I say, because of all those preconceived notions. So whenever I have a chance to show the general public what it's actually like here, and how our primates really live, I jump at the opportunity.’
‘It's like a zoo in here’
To begin with, Babs showed Nienke and Sosha where the primates live. She explained that primates at BPRC are born, raised and live in groups. ‘They're extended families with several generations living together’, she told the presenters, who were all eyes. ‘They've got indoor and outdoor enclosures and can move freely between them.’ During the tour, they ran into one of the animal keepers, who was bringing the animals fresh tree branches. That sounded promising to Nienke and Sosha, who watched as the primates played with the branches and picked off the tree bark. ‘This is one of the things we do to enhance their living environment as much as possible’, Babs said. Whispering, Sosha commented ‘It's like a zoo in here’.
‘The primates don't notice a thing’
Babs was quick to point out that this is no zoo. ‘Some of these primates, though by no means all, will eventually take part in disease and drug research. We can only do that properly with primates that are healthy, so they all get veterinary check-ups yearly, or more often if needed.’ Nienke and Sosha followed Babs to the join the vet, who was just doing a health check on one of the primates. ‘We put them under narcosis, so they don't notice a thing.’
To complete their visit, Babs brought the two presenters to see some primates that are already living in the experimental setting. She explained why they are indoors and how we train the animals to reduce stress.
‘It was great to be able to show Nienke and Sosha around here and let them see how we treat our primates’, Babs said afterwards. ‘Because as long as laboratory animals and animal testing remain necessary, it's our job to take good care of them.’
Eager to see more?
Want to see behind our scenes? Check out our ‘Behind the scenes’ page, where you'll find a virtual tour and other videos on a range of topics connected with primate research.