Elizabeth (sistinas) wrote,

Welcome to the monkey house!

For the last 3 months we've had a management intern assisting in our office - Rick is in a two year NIH training program that will rotate him through a variety of jobs. As he used to work as an engineer for the animal care facility he's been promising to arrange a tour for a group of us & managed to pull that off today so this morning we got to tour the animal facility and visit the lab mice and monkeys.

So at lunch time we trotted off across the street & met up with his friend there to give us a tour, then we had to don tyvek bodysuits & hairnets, surgical masks & booties on our feet - felt like I was a doctor going into surgery! But the idea is to protect the animals so they can't catch anything from us (not the other way around)

The mice are housed in several rooms with rows upon rows of cages on huge racks with little "air conditioning" ventilation ducts plugging into each cage to ensure good ventilation. The monkeys are in cages in different rooms by species with several and we got to see several rooms of rhesus monkeys and some adorably cute little owl monkeys from south America with enromous eyes & fuzzy long tails plus they'd just gotten in several baboons from their farm in Poolesville. The woman leading the tour also showed us the storage & cleaning facilities and surgical rooms. Most of the monkeys there are used in trials for malaria vaccines and when they develop any illness they are promptly treated so overall they were a happy and healthy lot.

As much as animal rights activists protest the use of lab animals it was very reassuring to see how well cared for they were (including lots of toys & treats for their enrichment & to keep them from getting too bored). All the folks who work with them seem to care deeply about their welfare & respect the animal & stressed how they tried to develop all the procedures around what would be most beneficial to them.

Hard to belive this whole center is right across the street from my building and up until now I had no idea what all was in there!
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