Primate Care Manual


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


Chapter Excerpt


There is nothing greater or more enriching for a captive primate than to have the company of a compatible companion, preferably of the same species. In their natural environment, primates live in pairs, small family groups or in large troops. Even males who have not yet integrated into a troop or have been displaced by a newcomer will often remain on the fringes. It is therefore reasonable to assume that primates which are kept in captivity are more content and happy if companions are present. Because of the mental and physical stimulation companions provide, primates kept in pairs or groups are less likely to develop stereotypical or aberrant behavior. No matter how much time a person spends with a pet monkey, no matter how many toys, radios, TV, etc. are supplied; there is no substitute for the 24 hour availability of physical contact and bonding that a companion of the same species can provide. They understand one another's vocalizations, share similar behaviors and gestures, and can relate to one another in every aspect better than any human ever could. The effects of extended isolation on humans are well known, and how they suffer psychologically is well documented.

The same holds true for our nonhuman primate cousins. Ideally, primates kept in pairs or groups will enjoy the social benefits of grooming, playing or resting together. Their lives will be enriched by the complexity of relationships with other individuals. This becomes a positive challenge for caretakers--to provide a captive environment that recreates some of the aspects of a monkey's natural social setting.

Primates are far more interesting to share one's life with when they are grouped together. A socially isolated primate, on the other hand, will most likely become unhandleable in its adult years. With no potential for interaction or stimulation, it may sit hours on end with nothing to do but develop negative ways to combat its deprivation.




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