The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has pumped in over Rs 30 lakh to build three large, airy enclosures to improve the living conditions of monkeys living in its central animal facility.
Six monkeys who have lived caged for over 10 years have been retired and rehabilitated at Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre. AIIMS has also introduced a training programme for its technical assistants on animal upkeep and hygiene.
Hindustan Times had reported how years of captivity in unhygienic conditions made many monkeys and rats lose their metal balance ("Caged to Die" October 6, 2008). Video footage showed they spent their day going around in circles in their cages, signs of a nervous breakdown. Sick rabbits and guinea pigs with infectious skin disease were left untreated.
"The changes were long awaited. We have worked on building animal-friendly infrastructure, there is more cleanliness and importantly, we are working on maintaining a healthy animal stock," said Dr YK Gupta, the chair of AIIMS' Institutional Animal Ethics Committee.
"Bigger cages have replaced the smaller, dingier ones. We also have two separate run-in spaces for ensuring free movement for these animals," he said.
AIIMS has stopped all animal experiments till the animal facility restoration is complete. "There are four projects awaiting Committee for the Purpose and Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) approval. We are awaiting clearances from the ministry of environment," said Dr Gupta.
"While rehabilitation is a positive move we are happy that changes are in line with the recommendations of the CPCSEA," said Dr Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs, PeTA India, which spearheaded the campaign.