C.H.O.I.C.E - the "Smart" Caging Choice


The Interactive CHOICE Cage System is designed with features that allow an animal's individual choice and control over the following:
  • Social Housing. Control over degree of social access. A rotating wheel provides the following four choices: full access, tactical contact (grooming bars), visual access through a clear panel, no social or visual access.
  • Audio Enrichment. Control over musical choices such as classical lullaby, nature sounds, no sound.
  • Video Enrichment. Control over video stimuli such as nature, animation, conspecific activity, no video.
  • Paint/Creative Enrichment. Control of a basic “paint” simulation program.
  • Light. Control to turn On/Off a light located inside their cage. Additionally, NHPs can choose the colors: Red/White/Blue.
  • Heat. Control to turn on or off infrared heat source.
  • Pop-out/collapsible porch. Provides NHP with novel views of their room and their neighbors.

 


Most choices on control features are digitally recorded on a computerized system to use as data points. Each feature can be disengaged if needed/desired. Additional music, sound and video choices can be programmed into the system as desired by the facility. Individuals from Massachusetts General Hospital (Jennifer Camacho), Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Jaine Perlman), and University of California San Francisco (Autumn Sorrells) collaborated in the development of the Preference Cage with Britz & Company. These collaborators will be validating the uses of the cage features and assessing the caging system as an enrichment and welfare enhancement tool. Several study designs have been developed to assess the various components of the caging. A comprehensive ethogram has been developed for all centers to work from, and goals have been set to achieve inter-observer reliability to be able to pool data from all three institutions. The aim is for data to be complied, presented and published. Planned evaluations will assess:
  • Function of caging in a laboratory environment (durability, practicality, use by facilities)
  • Primate preferences for control features
  • Impact on welfare. Capabilities of the caging environment to increase exploration and problem-solving; reduce inactivity and abnormal behaviors.
  • Training/teaching investment for the NHP to learn to use the system.
Click here to download the full poster describing the CHOICE cage project.