Primates in Animal Studies
An overview of nonhuman primates living in research facilities in the United States
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA APHIS) posted their Animal Usage Reports by Research Facilities for 2019 in May 2021. Here are the quick and dirty results:
108,526 nonhuman primates
resided in US research facilities in 2019.
That represents a 102.4% increase over 2018.
We parsed the numbers to make them more digestible than the official reports. You can check your state's population of nonhuman primates in research in the chart to the right.
Nonhuman Primates in US Research Facilities by State
In the chart to the right, all states, plus the District of Colombia and Puerto Rico, are listed based on the number of nonhuman primates in their research facilities, from highest population to lowest .
The rows highlighted in red indicate the 10 states with the greatest numbers of nonhuman primates living in their research facilities.
Massachusetts, the state in which we are located, has the ignoble distinction of housing the largest population of nonhuman primates in the United States with 18,933 monkeys living in our research facilities, that's 1,728 monkeys more than in 2018.
This is the second year in a row in which Massachusetts has housed the largest nonhuman primate research population in the United States.
#2 on the list is Louisianan with 13,752 nonhuman primates.
#3 on the list is Maryland with 12,810 nonhuman primates.
How the Reports Are Calculated
Each USDA-registered research facility is required by the Animal Welfare Act to submit an Annual Report that documents its use of animals for research, testing, teaching and/or experimentation. The numbers reported may not be all inclusive as some research facilities might not have reported in time for publication.
The USDA APHIS reports can be found here.
Scroll down to Animal Usage by Research Facilities, by Year.
USDA Animal Care compiles these numbers and produces 5 reports annually. Each report is based on a specific pain category, designated by a column name on the Annual Report. The report categories are:
Please note that the Column F report includes the total number of animals USED in research that year. It does not include Column B animals that are held in research facilities but were not actively involved in studies during the reporting period. To determine the total number of animals residing in research facilities during that year, the totals in Column B must be combined with those in Column F. (See illustration to the right.)
Column F; Total number of nonhuman primates used in regulated activities (Column C+ Column D + Column E) = 68,257
Column B; Nonhuman primates research facilities held but did not use for regulated activities = 40,269
Total number of nonhuman primates living in US research facilities = 108,526
Now, for the complete picture of animals in research in the US
Animals in Research in the US 2019
934,771 animals that are covered by the Animal Welfare Act resided in US research facilities in 2019 (see below for what species are not reported).
This is just short of 32,000 more animals than in 2018.
As you will read below, this may only represent 10% of the actual number of animals in research facilities in the US.
Read on to learn why.
What is NOT in the reports
The Animal Welfare Act only protects warm-blooded species, not including birds, rats, and mice that are bred for research, despite the fact that they constitute 90-95% of the animals used in research.
Those unreported numbers, must be added to the totals in each year's reports to know the true number of animals living in research. But that's still not the whole story.
The Animal Welfare Act, and therefore the Animal Usage Reports, also excludes cold-blooded animals, such as fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Thus an additional unknown unreported number of animals must be added to the report to have a full account.
In addition, the Animal Welfare Act, and therefore the Annual Usage Report, excludes farmed animals raised for food or fiber or used in agricultural research, such as cows and pigs. So the pigs, sheep, and other farm animals quoted in the USDA annual reports are used for some other research purposes, whether surgical studies, biomedical studies, or...whatever.
The point is that the numbers reflected in the Animal Welfare Reports do not reflect the true total numbers. The numbers of animals in research facilities far exceed the numbers reported.
Thus, the 934,771 animals in research facilities in 2019 may, in actuality, only be about 10% (or less) of the actual numbers of animals in research facilities for that year.
2019 Research Animals
PLUS 208,116 animals categorized as "all other covered species."
This total—934,771 individuals—may only represent 10% (or less) of the actual number of animals in research facilities for the year.
If you haven't already, see "What Is NOT Covered In The Reports" to learn about the many species not reflected unaccounted for.
That places the actual number of animals living in US research facilities in the many millions.