Primate Training and Enrichment Workshop


The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Veterinary Sciences (DVS), Active Environments, and Yerkes National Primate Research Center would like to thank you for your interest in our Primate Training and Enrichment Workshop. We are again offering this successful, "hands-on" workshop on TBD, at the Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research campus in Bastrop, Texas. The workshop is designed to develop skills in laboratory primate caregivers and zoo primate keepers that will improve their ability to appropriately manage the behavior of the primates in their care. Other staff involved in primate management, research, regulations and well-being (managers, veterinarians, curators, investigators, inspectors, etc.) are also invited to attend. Attendance at the workshop is restricted to 30 participants. Additional correspondence will follow when you are accepted into the PTEW and your place is officially reserved.

Workshop Program

The four-and-a-half-day Primate Training and Enrichment Workshop in TBD, will emphasize two areas of concentrated study that are of interest to personnel caring for nonhuman primates in zoos and laboratories (1) enriching the environment and (2) training nonhuman primates. For both areas of study, we will focus on a problem-solving approach, addressing the issues/problems that you have identified in your pre-workshop questionnaires.

Enrichment instruction will include lectures, discussion and "hands-on" workshop approaches to teaching the elements of designing, implementing and evaluating an enrichment program. Insights into the historical contexts of environmental enrichment work with captive nonhuman primates will be given as background. Differences between the behavior of nonhuman primates in the wild and in captivity will be discussed as many attempts to improve captive environments are designed to elicit more naturalistic behavior. Applications of a variety of enrichment techniques will be described and demonstrated. Practical matters such as obtaining materials, cost, sanitation, maintenance of devices and safety will be covered. Participants will observe chimpanzees and rhesus, squirrel and owl monkeys using various types of enrichment, and will design, build and evaluate an enrichment device. Finally, based upon input from pre-workshop questionnaires and on-site discussions, participants will begin to determine relevant enrichment options for their facility that will prepare them to meet institutional goals and satisfy regulatory requirements.

The training portion of the workshop will assist participants in developing basic training skills and then applying those skills to their own institutional program. This portion of the workshop will include a combination of lecture, discussion, demonstration and group participation activities. The theory and techniques of operant conditioning will be presented, focusing on the use of positive reinforcement techniques as a means of encouraging the voluntary cooperation of nonhuman primates in a variety of situations. Participants will learn the step-by-step process of designing and implementing a training program. The workshop will emphasize specific types of training, such as socialization training, desensitization and husbandry training, utilizing examples provided by group members. To augment these discussions, participants will observe training sessions with resident nonhuman primates where various techniques will be demonstrated. Finally, based upon input from pre-workshop questionnaires and on-site discussions, participants will begin to develop training plans for specific situations in their own facility.

We are very excited about providing this type of training in the midst of increased public expectations to improve the quality of life of captive nonhuman primates. We have designed the workshop to be timely, practical and informative.

Registration Information

Enrollment is limited and the pre-registration waiting list is long, so early and accurate submission of forms and payments will be advantageous. Acceptance into the workshop will not be "first-come, first-serve"; we reserve the right to optimize the composition of the group of attendees to maximize the benefits achieved by all participants. We will once again have to seriously enforce the deadlines mentioned below. If you do not submit the required materials by the stated deadlines, we may not be able to include you in the workshop.

  1. Program Announcement (pdf): Contains the information on this page. Please feel free to copy and distribute this information.
  2. Registration Form (doc): We will need a completed pre-registration form for each participant (due on or before TBD). You do not need to provide us with flight information by TBD. You can wait until after you have been accepted into the workshop to send us travel information.

    Registration Fee: The registration fee is $1350 per participant and includes transportation once in the Austin/Bastrop area, all meals, five nights motel accommodations (double occupancy -- we'll assign you a roommate if needed), all workshop materials and a commemorative shirt and flash drive of photographs. If you need a single room, the registration fee increases to $1700.

    Full payment or a deposit of $500 must be received on or before TBD. Deposits will be refunded to those not accepted into the workshop. For those accepted into the workshop, deposits will be applied toward the registration fee. You can use a personal credit card for your deposit and then pay by company check or credit card, if you need to. We will not charge your credit card initially. Please note that deposits paid by those accepted into the PTEW will not be refunded in the event that the participant cancels.

    Please make checks payable to 'MD Anderson Cancer Center' with a notation 'for PTEW'.  Credit card payments are acceptable.  Please fill out the Credit Card Authorization Form if you wish to use this method of payment.
  3. Questionnaire (doc): We have enclosed a questionnaire that will enable us to incorporate your input into the design and content of the workshop. We would appreciate it if each individual would take the time to fill it out completely (due on or before TBD).
  4. Rodger James Memorial Scholarship (doc): Information and application guidelines for a PTEW scholarship are available. There are no specific requirements but the recipient must demonstrate the highest level of commitment to the care and well-being of captive primates.

Health Requirements: Accurate compliance with these health requirements is essential. In order to participate, you must send the following items to:

KaLeigh Behrens, PTEW Coordinator
Keeling Center
U.T. MD Anderson Cancer Center
650 Cool Water Dr.
Bastrop, Texas 78602
FAX: 512-332-5218

The following medical clearance is required prior to traveling to the Bastrop campus.  

  • Mantoux TB skin test results (placed and read within the last 6 months)
    • If positive, a negative chest x-ray report must be on-file with EH&Wb.
      PLEASE NOTE: TB screening (PPD skin test or respiratory query) is mandatory every 6 months thereafter
  • Proof of measles (rubeola)
    Provide one of the following:
    • Documentation of one adult dose of measles vaccine or MMR vaccine
    • Documentation of two doses of measles vaccine on or after one year of age at least 30 days apart
    • Documentation of laboratory evidence of positive antibody to measles
    • Proof of physician-diagnosed measles
  • In addition, we ask for your cooperation in protecting the health of our animal population. Individuals who exhibit evidence of active respiratory illness or other contagious illness at the time of the workshop will be restricted from animal areas. Thanks for your understanding.

To make certain that there is a spot in the workshop available for you to use, you must return items 1 and 2 and the deposit no later than TBD, and if accepted, the rest of the payment and the health information no later than TBD. For a variety of reasons, we will have little flexibility regarding these deadlines.

To further assist you with your travel plans:

Our facility is located approximately 45 minutes east of the Austin airport. The workshop will begin Monday, TBD, at 8:30 a.m. and will end Friday, TBD, just after noon. A banquet for all participants will be held Thursday evening. Motel rooms have been reserved for Sunday evening through Friday morning and we will get you to the airport on Friday afternoon.

If you successfully complete the forms, meet the deadlines, pay the deposit and the fee and are accepted into the workshop, you will receive several more communications from us containing pre-workshop reading material prior to the workshop.  If you have any questions or need assistance with any aspect of the workshop, please let us know.