Primate Care Manual


The Ultimate Resource for
Quality Care and Understanding of Primates
in Private Captive Situations


Chapter Excerpt


After compiling some important facts about your monkey, including age, gender, species specific behaviors, past history and ways in which a monkey perceives its environment, you are now ready to implement some techniques of enrichment. For example, younger monkeys are much more active than mature ones. Don’t think your older animal is abnormal if it doesn’t show a great deal of activity when given access to equipment that requires a lot of movement.

The Housing Section as well as individual Genera Sections goes into detail regarding special cage modifications for various species. The ways in which a monkey naturally moves will determine some of the furniture placed within a cage. Behavioral idiosyncrasies of a species will also be a factor. Here is an example:
Forest Guenon species prefer lots of hiding places. By providing isolated areas and private spaces, you are manipulating the captive environment to mimic the natural one in a practical way. In this case, you are recreating the visual barriers the growth of a forest would provide. Primates adapt to captivity, but will do so successfully only if they can move and behave in the ways they have evolved in nature. Another illustration would be the Spider monkey. Spiders are brachiators that move through their environment by swinging with their arms and tail. Cage furnishings should incorporate several opportunities to move about in this manner, like placing a framework of bars running the roof of the enclosure. When furnishing a cage, all dimensions of its space should be utilized--roof, airspace, walls and floor.

Most species, even terrestrial ones, like to have plenty of places to sit at varying heights. Shelves and perches are an important part of providing both a sense of control and variety. Ways to move about the cage should also be a source of variety, by challenging a monkey’s sense of balance and coordination. Ropes and swinging vines of various thicknesses, textures and “give,” each require a different technique to make a monkey think. Every time a primate comes upon a different texture or surface, that makes it use its senses. Enrichment should be a continuing exercise for the brain and body. It should also be age appropriate. After all, you wouldn’t buy your grandmother a swing set, you would buy her a rocking chair.


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