The majority of the CNPRC animals are rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), which are the nonhuman primates most frequently used in research. Most of these animals live in large half-acre outdoor field corrals, in natural social groups similar to those in the wild consisting of 80-120 animals, and smaller groups of around 15 animals in housing called “corncribs”. The remainder of animals are housed as pairs in indoor housing, with a small percent housed singly as needed. In the wild, a rhesus macaque’s life span is up to about 18 years of age. At the CNPRC, with excellent nutrition and medical care, these animals can live up to 38 years of age. The aged rhesus colony at the Center is unique amongst the primate centers, and provides distinctive opportunities to understand normal aging and to develop treatments and solutions for age-related health problems.
The large field corrals house naturalistic demographics of infants to geriatric animals in their extended family groups. Healthy geriatric animals remain in these outdoor corrals with family members in the rich social environment of their home community. In addition to day-to-day health care for all animals, geriatric animals receive semi-annual geriatric veterinary workups and evaluations.
The CNPRC has a population of approximately 100 South American titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus). These monkeys are small, tree-dwelling primates from South America, and live in monogamous family groups that consist of the parents and their offspring. The father is the main caretaker for the infants, bringing the infant to its mother only for nursing until the infant is weaned at around 5 months of age. Titi monkeys are used in noninvasive biobehavioral studies of attachment and parental behavior, as well as in studies of autism treatments and understanding normal brain and behavioral development. Titi monkeys allow us to understand social bonds, particularly in adult males, which form attachment bonds unlike most other mammalian species.
Understanding social bonds, particularly in adult titi males, also contributes to titi monkey health; for instance, CNPRC scientists have studied how their formation of social bonds can reduce stress and lower glucose levels in pair-bonded titi monkeys.
Specific Pathogen Free Primates
National Institute on Aging, CNPRC Aged Monkey Colony
This program aims to:
- Support and maintain NIA rhesus monkeys for investigators nationwide that are conducting aging-related research. The goal is to proactively manage the NIA Colony in order to maximize the number of healthy geriatric rhesus monkeys for aging research. The Primate Services staff work closely together with investigators to support translational rhesus monkey models of human aging.
- Provide expertise and services at the highest quality level for investigators at the local, regional, and national levels. Through established protocols, guidelines, and expertise ensure investigators are provided sufficient healthy, well-characterized aged animals and correlative services and infrastructure to support aging and lifespan health research objectives.