Research Involving Primates

In 2018, a total of 315 primates were used in Switzerland for research projects at companies and universities. This comprises about 0.05 percent of all animal testing.

Most of these experiments were categorized as low severity, which means they were either non-stressful or only slightly stressful for the animals involved. But experiments with moderate to high severity do take place, for example, when researching and developing therapies for people who have suffered a stroke or spinal cord injury, or who are afflicted by Parkinson's disease. Various Swiss Universities collaborate on these experiments.

Charles and Max
Charles and Max
Charles, Max, Paul and Alan are the names of the four macaque males at UZH. They know each other for years. (Image: Frank Brüderli, UZH)

Swiss collaboration and standards

Supported by the Swiss University Conference, in 2012 the University of Zurich, the ETH Zurich and the University of Fribourg founded the Non-Human Primate Swiss Competence Center in Research (SPCCR). The center develops the highest standards for keeping and researching on primates, trains all researchers and animal keepers working with primates in Switzerland, and gives all Swiss universities access to the infrastructure and expertise required for research on primates.

Makaken-Männchen Paul
Makaken-Männchen Paul
Two of the four macaques will participate in the experiment - Paul is one of them. (Bild: Frank Brüderli, UZH)

Evaluation of interests - case by case

In 2009, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court reached a decision upholding the rejection of two applications for experiments on primates at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich. This decision, however, has no bearing on the general authorization to conduct primate research in Switzerland. Although the Federal Supreme Court confirmed the rejection of the applications by the lower court, it also clearly stated that the decision was not one of basic policy. It remains the duty of the cantonal commission on animal experimentation to assess each individual application for animal testing via an evaluation of interests procedure.