Yerkes Primate Research Center: A Historical Perspective
Frederick A. King
Cathy J. Yarbrough
Research with animals has brought immense medical and psychological benefits to humankind that otherwise would never have occurred. The development of vaccines, modern surgical and transplant procedures, testing of new medications, drugs, and medical devices, behavioral methods such as biofeedback, programmed learning, and behavioral modifications all had their roots in animal research, along with the development of dozens of new diagnostic and analytical tools. There is no question that further advances will continue to require animals for the indefinite future.
Intact living animals, along with humans, today provide the only way that we can study the interactions of organs, systems, and interactive processes, behavioral and biological, in the intact organism. Alternatives developed by scientists, such as microbial, cell, and tissue cultures, and mathematical and computer models of biological and behavioral activities and interactions, are important adjunct methods, but they cannot replace whole animals for the study of normal physiological and psychological processes that affect the whole individual.
The need for continued research with whole live, behaving animals is as great in behavioral research as it is in biomedical studies. For example, although certain aspects of the toxicity of drugs used to treat mental illness may be tested in cell or tissue culture, we are unlikely to elicit a full understanding of their behavioral and biological side effects until we have tested them in animals with intact or, in certain instances, abnormal