Rhesus macaque

Rhesus macaque monkeys are an important animal model due to their anatomical and physiological similarities to humans. Many benefits to human health would not have been possible without these special animals, including the development of life-saving vaccines such as polio, smallpox, and rabies. Effective treatments for HIV/AIDS have been created because of research with nonhuman primates.

Along with these life-saving medical breakthroughs, there have also been a number of behavioral discoveries made with the help of the rhesus macaque monkey such as the ability to recognize objects similar to humans leading to promise as animal models for studying the neural mechanisms underlying high-level visual processing in humans.

Areas of Vital Research

Research Animals Gallery

Rhesus macaque/United States

Love, Care, Progress: Inside a Nonhuman Primate Research Facility

Love, Care, Progress: Inside a Nonhuman Primate Research Facility highlights the critically important role of nonhuman primates in health research. This moving story is meant to serve as a conversation starter about the irreplaceable benefits of animal studies and the high standards of care these amazing creatures receive. Viewers will…

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Rhesus macaque/Beaverton, OR

Taking a Dip in the Pool

Monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center are provided with many types of environmental enrichment to simulate a natural environment.  In the summer the monkeys have access to pools and other forms of water enrichment.  Here you can see them enjoying a refreshing dip in their pool.

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Rhesus macaque/Beaverton, OR

Outdoor Climbing and Wheel

Nonhuman primates, like these Rhesus macaques, are naturally curious. They spend a great deal of time foraging and investigating novel objects in their natural habitats. Environmental enrichment provides a way to simulate a natural environment for monkeys that are needed for research.  This increases opportunities for the expression of species-typical…

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Rhesus macaque/Beaverton, OR

Husbandry Staff Providing Enrichment for Rhesus Monkeys

Here a husbandry technician is providing food enrichment to rhesus macaques in their corral. This kind of positive interaction between monkeys and their caretakers can improve well-being for the animals (or, for the animals and the humans!).

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Rhesus macaque/Beaverton, OR

Monkey Enrichment for Indoor Housing

Monkeys are given enrichment such as toys, swings, climbing structures and other items to increase their behavioral diversity. Many of these objects are rotated on a regular basis, to keep them novel.  This indoor enclosure for the monkeys at Oregon National Primate Research Center provides many opportunities that encourage natural…

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Rhesus macaque/Beaverton, OR

Touchscreen Research Method

The Oregon National Primate Research Center is currently evaluating various forms of research methods to improve traditional cognitive testing. This Rhesus macaque is using a touchscreen to determine his cognitive ability as part of a neuroscience research project. He is being shown a video of other monkeys, in place of…

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Rhesus macaque/Beaverton, OR

Positive Reinforcement Training for Blood Draw

Garcia is participating in positive reinforcement training (PRT), also known as clicker training. PRT is a type of training in which animals get rewards for performing desired behaviors. Using PRT, monkeys like Garcia voluntarily cooperate with procedures necessary for husbandry and research protocols. Such procedures include entering a transfer box…

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Rhesus macaque/Beaverton, OR

Trainer and Rhesus Macaque Colony

This is the Oregon National Primate Research Center Nonhuman Primate Training Specialist.  She is training a monkey, Finch, in a group to take medication, which allows him to stay in his colony, instead of being removed to the hospital. Avoiding such removals helps to reduce not only the stress to…

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Rhesus macaque/Texas, USA

Monkey Eating Oranges

Credit: Photo by Clem Spalding, Courtesy of Texas Biomedical Research Institute

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Rhesus macaque/Wisconsin, USA

Mom and baby rhesus on hammock

A rhesus macaque mom climbs into a hammock with her infant at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. Females reach puberty at around age three, while males are sexually mature by age four. Gestation is five and a half months, with one infant born at a time and often a year or…

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Rhesus macaque/Wisconsin, USA

Baby rhesus with toy

Two juvenile rhesus macaques explore their environment while being observed as part of an animal enrichment and behavior study at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. Infants typically stay with their mothers for up to a year and are then socially housed with their peers.

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Rhesus macaque/Wisconsin, USA

Baby rhesus getting mini marshmallow treat

Environmental enrichment is an important part of caring for research animals. Research animals are provided with several types of enrichment to stimulate species-typical behaviors. These juvenile rhesus macaques are enjoying mini marshmallow treats. Interactions with their caregiver give them social and intellectual stimulation, while strengthening their bonds with each other.…

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Rhesus macaque/Wisconsin, USA

Rhesus getting treat from his caregiver

Rhesus monkeys getting treats from their caregiver at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. Healthy treats can include peanuts, grapes, apple slices, etc. Positive reinforcement is used to train the monkeys to move to transport boxes. These boxes safely carry monkeys to procedure rooms for blood draws, ultrasounds, TB tests, and…

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Rhesus macaque/Wisconsin, USA

Ultrasound of a pregnant Rhesus monkey that has been infected with Zika virus

Researchers perform a fetal ultrasound on a pregnant rhesus monkey to study the link between the Zika virus and birth defects.  They are trying to learn how, when and where the virus infects the fetus and causes disease.  When an adult male is infected, the virus is cleared quickly.  But…

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Infant rhesus with stuffed toy

This infant rhesus monkey is being held by a member of the primate services staff at the California National Primate Research Center.  The Center features a veterinary hospital that provides care for nearly 4000 monkeys.

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Monkey with Halloween pumpkins

Monkeys at the California Primate Research Center enjoy Halloween pumpkins.

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Enrichment for rhesus mother and baby

A mother and juvenielle rhesus macaque climb a branch in their outdoor enclosure.  They are eating zucchini, one of many vegetables provided as both enrichment and nutrition for these research monkeys.

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Family of monkeys with Halloween pumpkins

A family of research monkeys enjoy some Halloween pumpkins.  Seasonal fruits and vegetables are provided both as nutrition and as enrichment.  The monkeys like to break apart the pumpkins and pick out the seeds. It is a delicious and fun treat.

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Monkey play yard

Monkeys of all ages like to climb and play in the children's play structures installed in their housing areas.  The bright colors and interesting design enrich their environment and offer them opportunities to explore.

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Rhesus macaque drinking water

Monkeys like this one are provided with fresh water and a variety of foods to ensure optimal health.  Their housing areas are specially designed to allow them to have social interactions with other monkeys, forage for food, climb, nap in the shade, or bask in the sun.

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Colony of rhesus macaques

These are rhesus macaques housed at the California Primate Research Center.  In the wild, and at the Center, these monkeys live in groups of eighty.  They spend their days foraging for food hidden by their caretakers, grooming each other and caring for their young. Their enclosures also offer opportunities to…

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Geriatric rhesus macaque

The colony of rhesus macaques at the California National Primate Research Center consists of infants to adults.  Their average life span in the wild is 18 years.  Monkeys live up to 38 years old at the Center due to the excellent nutrition and medical care provided.  The aged rhesus colony…

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Rhesus macaque/California, USA

Monkey housing facility

These outdoor enclosures house monkeys that are on active research studies. They are socially housed and receive many types of enrichment to provide opportunities for foraging, climbing, and interacting with their caregivers.  Positive reinforcement training is used to ensure that procedures like blood sampling is done in cooperation with the…

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