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The Yerkes Research Center employs an Animal Care staff that provides 24-hour care to the animals. These staff members include clinical veterinarians, veterinary technicians, a research nurse and animal care technicians. Since 1985, the Yerkes Research Center has been fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC); this certification is regarded as the gold seal of approval for laboratory animal care.

Behavioral Management


One element of the Yerkes Research Center's extensive Animal Care is our Behavioral Management program,which includes providing socialization opportunities for the primates, offering a variety of environmental enrichment, applying animal training methods and assessing the behavior of the animals. Socialization is the primary method to support the welfare of animals used in research and is the cornerstone of the program. Enrichment methods include:

Feeding enrichment

Structural enrichment

Physical enrichment, such as manipulable objects and climbing structures devices permitting foraging, grooming and problem-solving

Sensory enrichment, such as music and videotape viewing and interactions with humans

The Behavioral Management staff has also initiated a positive reinforcement animal training program to help facilitate animal care, research and veterinary procedures. Several behavioral management techniques are used concurrently for each primate; these techniques are specific to each animal based on the species, age and requirements of the research project.

Animal Care and Behavioral Management personnel implement daily enrichment and training. The program is dynamic, permitting modification of techniques in accordance with in-house assessments and findings from scientific literature.

Rhesus Macaque


Native to Southeast Asia

The rhesus macaque is the Yerkes Research Center's most common nonhuman primate and the most common monkey used in biomedical research due to its ability to adapt to almost any environment. This serves research programs well because such adaptable animals provide the most reliable research results.

Rhesus macaques make valuable contributions to Yerkes' AIDS vaccine research program as well as research programs involving aging, reproductive biology,biological basis of social behavior, behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy, biological consequences of differences in maternal care, malaria and organ transplantation.



Native to Africa

Chimpanzees are important for behavioral and biomedical research. That their DNA is 98 percent similar to humans is important, but the 2 percent difference is critical to determining what makes humans unique.

Chimpanzees make valuable contributions to research involving aging, brain imaging, genetic and cognitive studies, human nature, social intelligence and evolution.

Sooty Mangabey


Native to West Africa

The sooty mangabey is the source of HIV-2, a less-virulent strain of HIV. Yerkes researchers are studying these animals in efforts to refine and develop new treatments for AIDS and HIV infection. In addition, sooty mangabeys contribute to research involving reproductive biology and behavior, social system dynamics, immune function and evolution of growth.

Squirrel Monkey

Native to South America

Squirrel monkeys, often seen traveling close behind a social group of capuchins, are found in South America and travel and forage almost exclusively on tree branches.

Squirrel monkeys are used at the Yerkes Research Center in vaccine and behavioral neuroscience studies, specifically research on cocaine addiction and malaria.

Cynomolgus Monkey

Native to Southeast Asia

Used in memory and neuroscience research at the Yerkes Research Center, the cynomolgus monkey sometimes is called a crab-eating macaque and has been used extensively in biomedical research.


The Yerkes vivarium is home to 16,000 rodents, including mice, rats and voles, which are often the first animal models used in research programs. Rodents are involved in a number of studies, including those on addiction, autism spectrum disorders, behavior, fear and anxiety related disorders, transplant medicine and vaccines.

NIH Statement on Animals in Research

Come See Our World, a project of Americans for Medical Progress