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 2018 in January 2020. Here are the quick and dirty results:
106,018 nonhuman primates
resided in US research facilities in 2018.
That represents a 3.8% decrease from 2017.
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.
Over 25% are used in painful studies. To be clear, that's 26,939 monkeys that experience painful protocols. Some receive palliative care to help them cope with the pain. Some do not. These monkeys will never leave the lab alive.
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 17,205 monkeys living in our research facilities; a 36% increase over 2017. This is the first time since we've been tracking these reports the Massachusetts has housed the largest nonhuman primate research population in the United States.
#2 on the list is Louisianan with 13,291 primates.
Maryland holds 3rd place with 12,018.
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) = 70,797
Column B; Nonhuman primates research facilities held but did not use for regulated activities = 35,221
Total number of nonhuman primates living in US research facilities = 106,018
Now, for the complete picture of animals in research in the US...
Animals in Research in the US 2018
902,787 animals that are covered by the Animal Welfare Act resided in US research facilities in 2018 (see below for what species are not reported).
This is a 3.2% decrease from 2017. While we applaud any reductions in the number of animals used in research, this continues to represent an enormous number of living, thinking, feeling individuals who are living tortured lives.
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.
There are unreported numbers of farmed animals being studied for consumption and agriculture. This came under scrutiny in a January 19, 2015 New York Times expose, with a resulting bill being introduced on February 5, 2015 to protect animals in these ghastly livestock studies.
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 902,787 animals in research facilities in 2018 may, in actuality, only be about 10% (or less) of the actual numbers of animals in research facilities for that year.
2018 Research Animals
PLUS 222,828 animals categorized as "all other covered species."
This total--902,787 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 real number in the many millions.
Is this really okay?
Is this really okay?