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Recently there has been a movement to adopt the animal housing practices utilized in Europe which place a greater emphasis on the practice of social housing for all common laboratory species.

SNBL USA originally designed a unique Nonhuman Primate caging system to meet the recommendations of the European Union ETS 123 Guidance Document (2006).  This housing concept has been recently modified to increase the functionality in regards to animal enrichment and flexibility to accommodate research needs.  Group housing (4-5 animals housed together) can pose procedural challenges when utilized within the requirements of preclinical safety evaluation studies.   We addressed this in the design of these unique caging units by employing existing animal segregation/handling methods.

Each EU caging unit provides 7.3 M3 of interior space which exceeds the required space for 4 animals (1.8 M3 per each animal) per EU guideline.   Each EU caging unit contains multiple perching locations/lixit lines, climbing wall, back wall ventilation window, floor bedding, and multiple enrichment manipulata. The new EU caging connects to a back-run separation cage that provides several advantages. Animals are easily trained to move into the back-run separation cages through positive reinforcement. Animals are subsequently handled using the SNBL designed procedure cage for all dosing and data/sample collection techniques, which is our standard practices at SNBL USA. The separation cages are designed to accommodate individual animal isolation procedures which are also aligned with established facility procedures.  A scheme has been developed that minimizes the additional time required to acclimate the animals to the EU housing units, to establish compatible social groups and to train the animals to adopt to the separation cages.

In a recently completed GLP-regulated preclinical toxicology study utilizing the SNBL EU caging system no significant differences in body weight gain were noted compare to that observed in animals housed in standard “four-pack” social caging.  The social housing of animals in this study did not result in any social hierarchical behavioral issues and did not impede any of the required study parameters.  The animals were calmer, less stressed, and easy to handle utilizing these specific EU compliant primate enclosures.

M. Arako Bailey, M. Hansen, M. B. Sarnowski, K. Crowder, M. Vegarra, S. Glaza and H. Tsusaki

SNBL USA, Ltd., Everett, WA, USA