Yearly Archives - 2015

Update from Primate Products, Inc.

By Thomas J. Rowell In recent months, the media has been focused on two events surrounding Primate Products Inc. (PPI) operation in Southwest Florida, which were both initiated by animal activists.  A recent article in Bloomberg Business Week does an excellent job in providing an overview (Bloomberg).  More specifically, one event involved a Hendry County investigation into zoning issues as it relates to land use. The second event was an investigation by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which was initiated as the result of an activist plant who was hired as an animal caretaker in September of 2014. Hendry County initiated an investigation (Complaint No 14-0240) in March of 2015 of possible violations of the Land Development Codes at PPI and another primate facility located within the county.  Specifically there were concerns regarding PPI using land inconsistent with current zoning.  PPI responded to the complaint in April of 2015 (Response to complaint).  In addition a site visit was performed by the County in May. On August 19, 2015 the County officially finalized their investigation. They concluded, based on observations made at the site inspection and information obtained by regulatory authorities and others, that the activities occurring on the property occupied by PPI were in compliance with Hendry County’s land use regulations (PR - Hendry County Concludes Investigations). Primate Products Inc. is appreciative of the work performed by Hendry County staff.  We reiterate that there is no better place to find the knowledge of support agencies, mindset of workers, and community understanding of farming and livestock production and maintenance than in Hendry County Florida. The investigation started by OLAW in June of 2015, which was initiated as the result of an activist plant hired as an animal caretaker, who spent 8 months on site covertly obtaining video and pictures of the operation, has recently come to an end (OLAW Report). OLAW, working with PPI’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and staff, were able to identify strengths and at the same time uncovered some weaknesses in the animal welfare program, which were corrected. Over a period of several weeks, PPI and OLAW maintained an open dialog regarding PPI’s animal welfare program, which culminated into a joint site visit by OLAW and the USDA in August of 2015.  As a result of the visit and the ongoing dialog, OLAW concluded the following: “Based on its assessment of PPl's corrective actions, review of the supporting documents, and the information gathered during the site visit, OLAW found PPI fully compliant with the provisions of the PHS Policy and the Guide.” The results of the USDA investigation are still pending.  PPI is appreciative of the time and effort that OLAW staff put into the process, and feel that this experience has resulted in a much stronger animal welfare program.  

Hendry County Florida: An Ideal Environment for Nonhuman Primates

By: Thomas J. Rowell

Hendry County, located in Southwest Florida, has made news headlines in the last few weeks highlighting the construction of primate facilities in the county. Although Primate Products, Inc. (PPI) has been established in the area for over 15 years these new efforts have gained more than their share of attention from animal activists, both local and from outside the State of Florida (see links at end of article).  Much of the attention is directed to the number of primate facilities that have taken up residence in the county.  News stories have reported that “the county seat of LaBelle only has around 4,600 residents, meaning that the number of monkeys in the area could soon overtake the number of residents” and some local residents have expressed concern in the County’s methods of approving these new projects. hendry1PPI has operated Panther Tracks Learning Center, located approximately 22 miles southeast of Immokalee, FL and approximately 120 miles west-northwest of Miami, FL (at the northern edge of the Big Cypress Reserve) for over 15 years.  The reasons PPI, and we assume other enterprises involved in breeding and housing nonhuman primates in this area, selected Hendry County as the site for our facility is based on three critical criteria:
  • First and foremost, the weather.  The tropical savanna climate of Southwest Florida below the frost line is the only place in the continental US with the natural environment that is most similar to where our purpose bred monkeys originate.
  • Secondly, the agriculture mindset of the labor base.  No one has to explain to someone with a farm background that animals require care and support every day and are thus a 24/7/365 commitment.
  • Thirdly, the knowledge base of environmental and regulatory agencies in farm communities is second to none.  Their understanding of animal needs and farm construction requirements to meet the needs of animals and health issues for both humans and animals and thus their contribution to the location, design and construction of housing and support areas was vital and welcomed.
In early 2000 PPI was solicited and encouraged to open the operation in Hendry County by the Hendry County Economic Development Council.  During the review process, in front of the County Board of Supervisors, there were concerns expressed by some animal activist groups from outside of the county.  At open meetings many members of the Hendry County Cattleman’s Association and local farmers and business owners appeared in support the project.  Ultimately it was approved, and for the last 15 years we have worked closely with the county and the local community of which we have been welcomed into and have their full support.  We promote the interest of our county and local region through both our employment practices and by insuring we buy products and services from our local businesses whenever possible. Throughout the entire process the various public agencies (Agricultural Extension Office, Hendry County Planning and Zoning Agency, etc. along with State regulatory agencies including the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission) contributed their knowledge to help us meet the rigid requirements required by the State of Florida. hendry2There is simply no better place to find the knowledge of support agencies, mindset of workers, and community understanding of farming and livestock production and maintenance than in Hendry County Florida. Hendry County and the community have been very supportive of PPI’s mission for over 15 years.  We draw our employment and bias our business to support the community, and we’ve always been very open with our practices and very appreciative of community support.

Donald A. Bradford, We Wish You Well!

don_bradford It is always bittersweet when a friend and colleague reaches retirement.  On one hand, you are sad that what was, will not be, going forward.  On the other, you are happy and excited for your friend who will be starting a new chapter with perhaps a new adventure or two with their remaining years.  It has been my sincere honor and very great pleasure to have spent the last 23 years working with Don here at Primate Products and although as a family member we know he will never be very far away, beginning June 1st, Don will begin his long postponed retirement.  Postponed I might add primarily by myself pleading with him to finish just one more project, show, situation or whatever fire needed immediate attention over the last several years. I am including a copy of part of the nomination letter for Don’s Garvey Award which he received in 2011.  Although lengthy I think it is a fitting tribute to a life dedicated to the improvement and advancement or our industry. We all wish him the very best of luck and success in whatever lies ahead. Sincerely, Paul W. Houghton 1969 – 1974    UCLA- Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, CA Don rose through the ranks to eventually become the General Supervisor.  He became active in the Southern California Branch of AALAS serving on its Board of Trustees and on its Technician Training Committee working with Bob Watkins.  His work performance, contributions and leadership in training efforts were recognized by the branch when it honored Don with its “Outstanding Technician Award” in 1971.  Until his departure in late 1974, Don oversaw extensive renovation of the facilities and planning for new facilities at Harbor General and laid the ground work for the eventual AAALAC accreditation of the program. 1975 – 1988    University of Iowa’s Animal Care Unit (ACU) in Iowa City, IA Don began as the Husbandry Section Head for the Bowen Science Building.  Don rapidly assumed greater responsibilities and became the Coordinator of Animal Husbandry in 1977.  Together with the Director and University Veterinarian, Dr. Paul Cooper, went on to lay out the complete rebuilding of the facilities and programs.  Again, the foundation of the rebuilding was the training of the husbandry and veterinary technical staffs.  An interesting side note regarding the training program that Don put in place is that the institution did not recognize the need for nor did it provide facilities for such a program.  So Don conducted “brown bag lunches” in the washroom of the Bowen Science Building, with the staff volunteering to eat their lunch right where the cages were washed. In just two short years, those training efforts resulted in the program going from a situation of having only one (Don) staff member (of 30 people) certified at any level to having over half the staff certified at the Technologist level and all but two certified at other levels. Throughout his tenure at the University of Iowa, Don was active in both the Iowa Branch of AALAS and national AALAS.  He served on the AALAS Board of Trustees representing District VI, serving on the AALAS Animal Technician Certification Board (ATCB), presented workshops on a variety of topics ranging from Cost Accounting in Laboratory Facilities, to the Dynamics of Group Motivation, he presented numerous papers at the local, district and national AALAS meetings, presented workshops at the local community college, consulted to the local animal shelter and to a local company manufacturing animal housing systems and served on the AALAS ATCB. He was honored by the Iowa Branch AALAS with its “Outstanding Supervisor” award in 1979 and its highest honor the “Dr. Ronald E. Flatt Memorial Award” in 1988.  He also obtained his BBA/MIS degree from the University of Iowa in 1988. 1988- 1992      University of Miami, Division of Veterinary Resources, Miami, FL Don moved on to the University of Miami in December 1988 where he assumed the position of Assistant to the Director.  His efforts in training of others continued there and within the Florida Branch of AALAS, where he served on the board of Trustees for 8 years.  The training program at the UM became the favored training program of the VA system in Miami, Childrens Hospital in Miami and Baxter, Inc. in Miami, with attendees coming from all over south Florida to obtain their certification through the program lead by Don. 1992 – Present Primate Products, Inc.  (PPI) Immokalee, FL Don began his career on the commercial side of the laboratory animal science industry when he began his own company (RepOne) providing sales representation for up to 11 different vendors serving the biomedical research community.  One of those companies was Primate Products, Inc. (PPI). Don joined PPI full time as the Director of PPI’s proposed Live Animal Division, which began business in late 1994.  As the Director, Don established the SOPs, again wore his training hat overseeing the training program of PPI’s husbandry and veterinary technical staffs.  He developed the software system used by PPI until the summer of 2010 and co-developed its replacement (ENOS) which is now commercially available.  He continued his service to national AALAS serving on the Distance Learning Committee and the Exhibitor Advisory Council.  He served the commercial members of AALAS serving on several committees and as the ATA President in 2007 and 2008.  He also has continued to present papers and participate in roundtable platforms at district and national meetings of AALAS and LAMA. One of Don’s most important contributions to the research community is his role in helping PPI develop its Panther tracks Learning Center and the conducting of (Primadaption) workshops, which center on the development of improved and successful programs of providing enrichment and care to captive nonhuman primates.  These workshops are open to the biomedical research community and are attended by personnel ranging from veterinarians, veterinary and husbandry technicians, investigators, supervisory and behavioral staff. This program has received excellent reviews from its attendees. Don’s leadership at PPI has contributed to our continuing growth in business and our continuing dedication to our corporate mission to provide products, services and training to enhance the conservation and care of nonhuman primates.

Primate Products, Inc. exhibiting at the 54th SOT annual meeting in San Diego, CA, March 22-26, 2015

We will be once again present at the 2015 meeting of the Society of Toxicology at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. We will be at booth # 745. Locate us on the SOT's interactive map: PPI Booth #745 at SOT 2015   To learn more about our Animal Welfare Program, products and services, please call us at 855-PPI-LABS [855-774-5227] or click this link to arrange a meeting with us: Schedule an SOT meeting The SOT Annual Meeting provides the most complete and in-depth coverage of toxicology. The meeting is the venue for toxicologists to learn about the scientific advances that have taken place over the past 12 months. The Scientific Program Committee has devised a thematic program that encompasses five themes of topical interest. This year, these themes are:
  • Advancing Clinical and Translational Toxicology
  • Approaches for Protecting Vulnerable Populations
  • Epigenomic Influences in Toxicological Responses
  • Safety Assessment Approaches for Product Development
  • Strategies for Exposure and Risk Assessments
With more than 6,500 toxicologists from more than 50 countries in attendance, this five-day event allows everyone the opportunity to network with colleagues and leading scientists from around the world.

The Pole and Collar Handling System, Where It All Began…

The story of how the pole and collar handling system came to be, has two parts.  In the beginning ….the year was 1972, (for my generation, that was before masks, gloves and IACUCs), feral (wild caught) rhesus monkeys were still imported from India and cost about $60 each! At that time, Paul Houghton was working at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) on a project with Jane Goodall to determine what behaviors in Chimpanzees were innate and which were learned. His group was training students from Stanford University (that were going to Gombe to do the behavioral shorthand that Dr. Goodall had developed), and helping with the design and building of a habitat for her chimps at the Stanford campus. As Paul tells it, “One day, they needed someone to catch and restrain some 10 kg rhesus macaques that were being dosed.  So they handed me the monkey gloves and said stick your hands in there and get their arms behind them and pull them out.”  For those of you who have done this you know what a rodeo this can be with an untrained large male macaque. Paul eventually went to Dr. Pinneo, the principal investigator of the project, and said “Doc, you don’t rope a milk cow every time you need milk – you train them.”  Dr. Pinneo’s response according to Paul was “Rhesus monkeys are not trainable.”  Paul’s response was “I can train them”, and two weeks later all of those animals were calmly presenting arms to be removed from their cages, and then handing their free arm back to me.  This was the beginning of the Willing Worker concept, which is simply stated as, training animals to willingly cooperate with the handling and procedures you need to accomplish.  By this effort animals become more of a participant in the procedure than a subject of the procedure.  A win-win situation! Over the next several years, word spread about their approach and they trained animals to cooperate in all kinds of protocols. They designed equipment to facilitate the work, and as a result, had more work than they could handle. In 1979 after Paul had left SRI, he received a call from John Anderson at the U.C. Davis Primate Center, asking what the best restraint device for monkeys was.  Paul told him that there just wasn’t one.  Monkeys perch, they don’t sit like apes, and that what was available was problematic because they pressed on various parts of their bodies and made them sit, which resulted in decubitus ulcers, even
Figure 1: Original Restraint Chair
Figure 1: Original Restraint Chair
from short sessions. The available devices just weren’t designed around either the natural behavior or the anthropometrics of the monkey.  With the support of Roy Hendrickson (and his friends in the Association of Primate Veterinarians) they proceeded to borrow 8 or 10 different restraint devices that were being used by various institutions at that time.  They then evaluated the positives and negatives of each, and developed a concept for the actual restrainer that Primate Products, Inc. still sells today.  They wanted an extremely humane device that actually did not come into contact with the animal except on its feet, when the animal was in its natural perching position. With a series of complex curves shaped into the various panels, they managed to prevent the monkey from “spinning”, and instead, orient in one direction, while remaining in its natural perching position. They developed the restrainer around the animal they desired to restrain, instead of putting the animal into something that wasn’t developed with that in mind. They wanted a device that was sturdy and would last.  To date many of the restrainers they produced as far back as 1983 are still in use today (see Figure 1).  And now, the rest of the story… Integral to the restrainer, they developed the pole and collar handling system (see Figure 2). This concept was developed from the work with dairy bulls where you use a stick with a hook in the ring in their nose to lead them around. If they start to push, you start to twist.
Figure 2: Original Pole and Collar
Figure 2: Original Pole and Collar
The concept was that if you don’t put your hands on the animal it can remain calm and not go into the flight panic response that results from their natural escape behavior.  They also wanted a solid member between the animal and the handler so anyone could use the system not just the special skilled (and brave) “catcher”.
Figure 3: Rhesus Macaque Training 1
Figure 3: Rhesus Macaque Training 1
They tried pistol handles, which according to Paul actually make it very difficult to manipulate in the catching process, and a variety of other embodiments.  The round handle with the simple pull slide matched with the correct hook style clearly became the favorite very quickly, and is what we use and sell today. The collar evolved much like the restrainer and the pole, from trying dozens of collars- flat and round leather dog collars to chains and rubber rings.  The current collar design was far superior because of how easily the animals adapted and accepted the collars in addition to the safety provided for the animal and the ease of use for the handler.  So the result was the pole and collar system that is generally still the preferred handling system used by the research community around the world today (see Figure 3).