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Subsequent to World War II, a dramatic increase occurred in the utilization of nonhuman primates in biomedical and psychological research and industry. At the same time field studies on the ecological and social behavior of natural populations of primates also increased, making possible more realistic assessments of both the behavioral potentiality of primate populations and their conservation status. In spite of the growing body of information indicating the endangered or threatened status of most species, many laboratory workers and planning agencies continue to regard primates as renewable resources, even seeking to bypass protective legislation in habitat countries to obtain them. As a consequence, insufficient financial support has been made available for the development of breeding colonies for research programs which may be essential. However, much utilization of primates is open to question. The appropriateness of primates as models, the numbers of animals used in experiments, and the redundancy of experimentation frequently are given little consideration. Likewise, field data on the biological and social requirements of primates have been consistently ignored in housing and other aspects of care, thereby calling into question the results of much research. The lack of restraint on the utilization of primates (and other animals) in research may ultimately be a consequence of the man/nature dichotomy embedded in traditional interpretations of Judeo-Christian thought.


This paper was prepared for and presented at the Institute for the Study of Animal Problems symposium on Nonhuman Primates in Biomedical Programs, 15 October 1980, San Francisco, California.