Animal Welfare

The Centre for Macaques works to develop best practice in animal welfare, to promote physical and mental well-being of the macaques within the Centre and to share these practices with the wider primate care community.

The Centre takes seriously its animal welfare responsibilities; it aspires to be a centre of excellence in primate welfare and to facilitate studies of animal behaviour and welfare within the captive environment.

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Environmental enrichment

Environmental enrichment enables animals to express their natural behavioural repertoire. This is very important in ensuring well-being. Natural behaviours include climbing, playing, swinging, foraging and investigating as well as inter-animal interactions such as grooming and their normal dominance and submission displays. The provision of visual barriers is also important in allowing animals to avoid confrontation and in providing private space.  Objects like ramps, hanging bands or objects provide things to investigate and objects of play within their space.


Animals are housed in enclosures which are well bedded with shavings and straw.  Daily supplies of fruit, vegetables and a pelleted macaque diet provide the bulk of their nutritional needs. However, in the wild, animals would spend a large portion of their day foraging. To emulate that activity and add variety to their diet, a forage mix of small seeds and other food items are distributed amongst the bedding and, as seen in this foraging video, the animals search the bedding for food items.

Daily forage mix includes equal proportions by weight of the following:

  • Caraway seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Millet seed
  • Green split peas
  • Yellow split peas
  • Green lentils
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Oat flakes
  • Brown rice
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Dessicated coconut flakes
  • Bulgur crack wheat
  • Flaxseed
  • Wheat grain

Social structure

Troops of rhesus macaques have a very strong hierarchical framework both in the wild and in captivity.  Understanding and reinforcing that hierarchy is an essential component of animal breeding management that leads to stable and harmonious groups. Hierarchy is analysed in each group and calculated using “David’s score”.This hierarchy is clearly demonstrated in the video Alpha male takes the lead.

Animal usage numbers

The following table shows the numbers of animals used at the centre since 2021:

Total Returned575335

The first public, non-human primate biobank in the UK