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RARF to retire their first 3 monkeys

The first three monkeys are planned to be retired by late fall 2017. They will be going to the newly opened Primates Incorporated in Wisconsin. The monkeys are male rhesus macaques: Izzle, Mars and River. They are research primates that participated in different research projects, but were all related to neuroprosthetics.


Mars is a 12 year old rhesus macaque who contributed to the development of cortical visual prostheses. In order to help understand how electrical stimulation of the brain can be used to provide visual sensations to blinded individuals, he had an electrode array implanted in the visual processing area of the brain. He was trained on a task where he learned to respond to a visual sensation presented on a monitor. He was able to indicate whether he saw the stimulus by using two hand switches, by lifting his left hand he responds that he saw the stimulus and his right to indicate he did not. Mars' response to electrical stimulation on the implanted array showed that micro-scale electrodes that sit on the surface of the brain can be used to evoke visual sensations. Because of Mars, we have made progress towards developing a safe and effective prosthetic device to provide useful sight to the profoundly blind.


Izzle is a 13 year old rhesus macaque who worked on a project that focused on recording in motor area of the peripheral nerves of the arm. His task was to match a curser he controlled to a target using the proper coordinated finger movements. From this project, researchers are able to identify how the cells in the peripheral nerves react to different movement types. They use this information in order to provide a more natural, nerve controlled hand prosthesis.


River is a 4.5 year old rhesus macaque who was instrumental in helping understand peripheral nerve stimulation techniques for natural sensations. His peripheral nerves of his left arm were electrically stimulated, his fingers were physically stimulated, and the brain response of both was compared. From this, researchers can start to construct electrical stimulation strategies that can relay natural touch sensations for prosthetic hand users.

We at RARF are so happy to be able to assist with providing these three boys with the opportunity to retire and spend the rest of their lives being monkeys. They have contributed so much to our understanding of how the brain perceives sensations and uses that information to allow the body to perform various tasks like feeling and seeing the world around us. What researchers have learned can be used to help an upper limb/hand amputee shake someone's hand, embrace their child, or enable a visually impaired person to see.

We will post updates and share their journey to their new home.

Visit for more information on the sanctuary in Wisconsin.

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