The power of pictures, and how they can be made to lie
Animal Care at the Tübingen Max Planck Institute
Our experiments are very sophisticated, and the cooperation of our animals is a prerequisite for the success of our research. Only healthy animals are motivated to cooperate with us - another reason that we place so much emphasis on ensuring the well-being of our monkeys.The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics complies strictly with all legal regulations on the use of laboratory animals in research and in many cases sets even higher standards for itself. Only healthy animals living in a stress-free environment can be used in cognitive research. Species-appropriate housing, handling and nutrition are a must - and our foremost goal.
Our animals are kept in mixed groups of young and adult males and females. We provide them with a variety of climbing furniture and toys as well as places to withdraw. This sort of social enrichment provides the animals with an environment appropriate for primates. Specially designed behavioral studies provide our scientists and veterinarians with new insights that they use to optimize housing conditions and animal care. They are in constant contact with colleagues at other primate facilities to exchange information.
Our animal facilities and animal care procedures are regularly monitored by the responsible authorities. On site, a team of experienced veterinarians, biologists and animal caretakers ensure that our animals receive the best possible care.
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Videos from the Animal Quarters
Videos of Training Sessions
Like most people, we believe that invasive experimentation on humans is ethically unacceptable, and that animals are our best surrogates for studies that require invasive methods in complex living systems. However, like most people, we are also concerned about the care and treatment of laboratory animals during such research. We believe categorically that laboratory animals must be treated humanely, that they should not suffer, and that they should be kept under conditions that ensure that they remain as healthy and comfortable as possible, both for ethical reasons and for the sake of good science.
First of all, only those animals that are cared for properly will be good research subjects. The proper care of laboratory animals is not simply the sign of a humane, civilized attitude, it is also a matter of intelligent self-interest. By protecting and caring for our animals, we are protecting the reliability and reproducibility of our scientific date. Only animals that feel comfortable and at ease will cooperate in experiments and provide reliable insights into the relationship between function and structure in the brain.
Second, laboratory animals that are under stress or frightened may become very difficult to manage or display abnormal behavior. This not only means a greater personal risk for our personnel, but also that more restraint must be used. In long-term studies such as those performed in our laboratory, stress reduction for the animals is vital.
Finally, the correct handling of research animals minimizes health hazards that may be encountered when working with animals, such as allergies, scratches and bites. Zoonoses, that is, diseases that are transmitted directly from animals to humans, are a major concern in all laboratories. But it is just as important to prevent the transmission of human infectious diseases to the monkeys. The best way to avoid such hazards is, again, to provide a species-appropriate environment for the animals and to educate the people involved in animal experiments in the proper care and treatment of the animals.