The Caribbean Primate Research Center-Cayo Santiago

Putting aside my misgivings regarding animal experimentation (and serious concern about runaway rhesus monkeys thriving on the main island), here is a description of The Caribbean Primate Research Center in Cayo Santiago, a small island off Puerto Rico, where, among other activities, scientists have been conducting AIDS research. Here is the director’s message and description of the Center’s activities on Cayo Santiago.

The Caribbean Primate Research Center (CPRC) is a world renowned center for the study of non-human primates. Established in 1938, it has a long history of involvement in key scientific discoveries, such as the discovery of the Rh blood antigen. Its mission is the study and use of non-human primates as models for studies of social and biological interactions and for the discovery of methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that afflict humans. Through its broad multidisciplinary approach, the CPRC provides a unique resource for collaborative studies by visiting scientists.

Cayo Santiago is a population of free-ranging rhesus macaques devoted to observational research. The original population was established in 1938 as a field site for behavioral investigations.

Each year we welcome scientists and students from all parts of the world. Cayo Santiago provides the ideal setting for studies on rhesus macaques in a naturalistic setting. Most research investigations at Cayo Santiago have been on behavior, development, cognition and communication as well as morphology and physiology. We also welcome scientists interested in investigating the biogeography and other ecological aspects of the natural life of Cayo Santiago, including its lizards, birds and plants. To apply for research see applying for research.

Cayo Santiago is one of the world’s most renowned field sites for short term and longitudinal non-human primate studies. Its unique research value consists of a stable and minimally disrupted long-term population management policy which allows investigators to plan and conduct longitudinal studies; an extensive and detailed computerized demographic database on the colony that provides information on individuals dating back to 1957, and DNA fingerprinting which is applied to confirm maternal and paternal relatedness of individuals.

The Cayo Santiago population, electronic database and the Laboratory for Primate Morphology and Genetics provide an important research resource for studies on social behavior, morphology, physiology, genetics and spontaneous occurrence of disease, and life-history studies.

The Caribbean Primate Research Center is committed using Cayo Santiago for undergraduate, graduate and technical student training and thesis/dissertation research.

For further information on this program, please contact or and see

For information on the virology laboratory, see

Also see

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