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The Case for Enclosures

A History of NHP Housing

Allentown opened its doors with an order for non-human primate – or NHP – housing in 1968; over 52 years ago. In fact, this was the first type of research animal housing ever produced by Allentown. Dog, cat, rabbit, pig, and ferret housing followed, as did housing for other research animal types, including mice and rats. Allentown has produced NHP and large animal housing for more than half a century, and many of those original units – built in the late 60’s and early 70’s – are still in use today; a testament to the durable, reliable design and construction of all Allentown solutions.

Today, NHP housing remains an important part of critical research protocols, and Allentown continues to push the envelope in this area with easily-customizable one-over-one and two-over-two mobile units, adjoining play cages and enrichment devices, and the newest trend in NHP housing: Enclosures.

The Case for Enclosures

In recent years, the LAS industry has seen a movement toward employing larger, enclosed spaces as NHP housing. Allentown has responded to this trend with the development of Enclosure Housing, which – with its much larger space and grander canvas for development – has afforded us the opportunity to innovate in ways that lead to enhanced animal welfare and improved research outcomes.

The Allentown Process

The majority of primate housing projects are, to at least some degree, custom – especially Enclosures. Because of this, Allentown works directly with customers at every stage of the design, engineering, and production process to ensure that their project requirements are both defined and met. Every NHP project we undertake follows this same process workflow:

  • Detailed customer meetings to define scope of project.
  • Review of similar, historic housing to draw parallels with new housing.
  • Creation of drawings and 3D models.
  • Installation, SAT, and rapid service response.
  • On-going customer review meetings at every project stage.

This process, coupled with Allentown’s unparalleled experience in designing and implementing large animal housing, has led to countless successful and innovative installations across the globe.

Project Spotlight: Collaboration

As already mentioned, the best solutions are the result of an intimate collaboration between Allentown and all interested parties. Such was the case when one of Allentown’s customers came to us with some very innovative, and very definite, ideas about their primate enclosures. The customer desired a unique swabbing process for breeding, and had in mind a “tunnel system” that would run across the top of each enclosure and allow the animals to drop into the catch cages beneath when necessary. Allentown worked directly with the customer, the architects, and the building staff to create a solution that satisfied the customer upon completion, and satisfies them still to this day.

Overview & Challenges:

  • Enclosure for 8-12 primates
  • Group and Isolate primate for procedure
  • Enrichment
  • Socialization
  • Maximize capacity based on room dynamics

Allentown Solution:

  • 49 sq. ft. (4.6 sq. m.) Enclosure
  • Developed Tunnel and Catch Cage System for daily procedures
  • Enclosure design incorporates thermal neutral materials, rails, ladders, perches, balcony, etc.
  • 27 Enclosures in a variety of configurations from stand alone to multiples joined by common wall

Project Spotlight: Partnership

At Allentown, we don’t take the word “Partner” lightly. And nowhere was this partnership mentality more effectively on display than in the recent case of a customer who had purchased, used, and loved a series of Allentown one-over-one primate units. Unfortunately for the customer, their local governing body informed them – after months of successful use – that their setup did not conform to necessary space requirements. They needed a fix, and came back to Allentown with the hope that we could utilize their current, already tight, space in such a way as to achieve compliance, yet not completely stall their program. Allentown’s solution was an enclosure system that fit into their facility, provided the requisite space for their animals, and worked in tandem with the one-over-ones they had previously purchased.

Overview & Challenges:

  • Customer already successfully using Allentown One-Over-One Units and Play Cages.
  • Identified the need for more housing space, particularly as it relates to vertical height.
  • Sought to maximize their available space, while at the same time integrating new housing with their existing One Over Ones and Play Cages.

Allentown Solution:

  • An Enclosure system that fit into the limited space of their facility.
  • Integrated with the One-Over-One units and Play Cages.
  • Satisfied their spatial requirements.

And those are just two examples of the many times Allentown has worked closely with customers to satisfy their unique NHP housing and enclosure needs.

Allentown recently held a webinar entitled: Making the Case for NHP Enclosures. The webinar focused on the welfare and research benefits of enclosure housing and was presented by Dr. Mark Prescott, Director of Policy & Outreach for the NC3Rs, and Paul O’Dwyer, Allentown’s Director of Production Engineering. To view the recording of this webinar, please click here.

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