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