TPLH Unique Baboon Housing Facilities
TPLH is dedicated to providing baboons with housing that promotes wellbeing in an outdoor social environment. Our innovative facilities can house up to 120 baboons in social groups, while allowing for individual feeding and testing to enable a wide array of experimental investigations (see figure).
The Social-Individual Housing System (SIHS)
We modified group housing cages to allow baboons to live in their normal group housing system but be separated for individual testing. The SIHS uniquely facilitates a wide array of individual behavioral and physiological testing. SIHS consists of 8 standard individual baboon cages within a 200-sq. ft. social cage (see figure). Baboons live in the social cage, with the ability to climb on the individual cages. When it is time for individualized testing, baboons are transferred into the individual cages. Baboons are easily trained to transfer between the group and social cages. We consulted with SNPRC veterinarians and behavioral experts to design this original housing structure. Each individual cage has access to food and water and is integrated with existing structural enrichment (e.g. perches). They are enrichment themselves since baboons can climb on them while in the social cage. Video cameras are in the corners of group cages for observation. The SIHS is ideal for tests of cognition, motor skills, anxiety, and any other experiments traditionally performed in individual housing.
The Individual Feeding System (IFS)
To enable individual feeding for control of access to food while maintaining baboons in social groups, we built the IFS. IFS consists of 8 outdoor 200-sq. ft. social cages with chutes leading to individual feeding cages (see figure). Baboons are easily trained to use the chute to enter the individual feeding cages, where they are provided with their daily diets. They run over a scale on their way to the feeding cages. The feeding cages have pans that collect dropped food so that any leftovers can be weighed or counted.
Enrichment: We developed our enrichment policies with SNPRC veterinarians and behavioral staff. Our animal cages allow for full physical and social activity and we have modified them so that even studies traditionally requiring individual cages can be conducted in group housing, removing the need for indoor individual cages for studies not on tether. Social enrichment is provided in the individual cage situation by maintaining animals in sight of at least three other animals. Plastic balls and rubber chew toys (2 of each) are also considered physical enrichment. Water lixits are available in each cage. Occupational enrichment provides tasks or puzzles animals can complete to receive a food reward. We use a variety of these toys. Feeding enrichment includes daily treats of fruits and vegetables. Sensory enrichment includes provision of televisions or radios that play species-relevant videos or audio. Sensory enrichment is important for singly housed animals.