The Special Case of Non-human Primates in Animal Experimentation

  • Augusto VitaleEmail author
  • Marta Borgi
Part of the Interdisciplinary Evolution Research book series (IDER)


Non-human primates (NHP) occupy a special place in the relatively new Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. As a matter of fact, the word “primate” is the most frequently used in the text of the Directive, and some articles are specifically dedicated to these animals. The first part of this chapter will provide a brief history of the normative treatment of NHP, followed by a description of the normative passages in the Directive 2010/63/EU which deal with the use of NHP in Europe. A comparison among the member states which carry on research using primate models and their implementation of the EU Directive in national terms will be presented as well. Furthermore, an overview on the use of NHP in European biomedical studies and toxicology, both in terms of numbers and kind of studies, will be followed by a comparison with data coming from Japan and the USA. Then, the possible reasons why NHP represent a special case, in terms of their use in laboratory research, will be discussed: Are there justifiable reasons why NHP should be considered more valuable in moral and then legislative terms? The last part will offer some considerations on the day-by-day reality of working with NHP in biomedical research, trying to understand whether the relationship between a laboratory monkey and the laboratory staff (researchers, technicians, students, etc.) is different from the one established with, for example, a laboratory rodent.


Animal experimentation Directive 2010/63/EU Ethics of research Human-animal bond Non-human primates Primatology Principle of the 3Rs 



We would like to thank Simone Pollo for the stimulating discussions on the use of animals in research. The collection of data that led to the writing of part of this chapter has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-HEALTH-2013-INNOVATION-1) under grant agreement no 602616 (Project ANIMPACT).


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental HealthIstituto Superiore di SanitàRomeItaly

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