The general management principles required for captive non-human primates in
healthy condition are as follows.
• The provision for adequate space for the animals is important. Inadequate space may cause stress in animals. Therefore, sufficient space with several feeding stations should be provided. Stressed animals may be aggressive and may throw objects at the keepers. It is always better to house a pregnant animal in a separate enclosure before delivery. The canine teeth of a dominant male may be removed in order to prevent injuries during fighting.
• Regular cleaning of enclosures is very essential for maintaining hygienic conditions. Bedding materials should be removed from the enclosure daily. Floors should be cleaned at least once daily with proper disinfectants. The whole cage should be completely emptied and thoroughly cleaned every few months. However, care should be taken to prevent infection from one cage to another.
• Most nonhuman primates are wasteful feeders. It is particularly true for monkeys. Therefore, moderate amounts of feed should be supplied at different time intervals. Adequate number of food dishes and water pots should be available. Rhesus monkey requires up to one litre of water per day.
• Captive primates need tree branches, swinging branches, nest boxes, pet toys and other necessary furniture in order to stimulate their natural behaviours. Proper sheds are required for the protection of the animals during hot and rainy days.
• Paints used for cage materials, furniture and utensils must be free from toxic metals such as lead. Lead toxicity results in morbidity and mortality in many captive primates.
• The newly arrived animal must be kept in a quarantine shed for at least two to three months. During this period, the animals should be physically examined. Tuberculin test is routinely performed for newly arrived animals. It is especially true for monkeys that are imported from the countries where tuberculosis is more prevalent.
• Infants of nonhuman primates need proper care. Human milk replacer can be used to rear the young. They may be fed at every two hours interval.
• Newly received animals have been found to have a high incidence of morbidity and mortality. They are very much susceptible to gastroenteritis and infectious diseases. Moreover, these animals often do not eat commercially prepared food. Therefore, a natural diet with adequate amount of water should be freely available. Water mixed with electrolyte should be given for one week or until the animals start taking food regularly. A large amount of fruits and vegetables should be provided.
• Attendants working with primates should be protected against some dreadful diseases such as rabies and hepatitis. Tetanus toxoid should be taken as a precautionary measure. The use of protective clothing, goggles, face masks and gloves are very important. Zookeepers should take care when using needles, scalpels etc. that causes injuries.