5

Monkeying Around!

WP_20140519_14_03_38_Pro

Last Monday I was able to do something I’d been desperate to do for a very long time…visit Monkey World! Excited as a child in a sweet shop doesn’t quite cover it!

Due to being zoo staff we were kindly given a tour around the park by Rebecca, one of the education officers. Firstly she spoke to us about the animals and the work which Monkey World carry out. I cannot state how important this work is, Monkey World save so many apes, monkeys and prosimians from lives spent in terrible conditions. Next we spoke about the work of Monkey World in schools and general education. As a lot of the animals at Monkey World were rescued from the pet trade it is not surprising that this is the main subject of their teaching. Even though I usually say that children do not need to be bombarded with negatives as long as a love of nature is provided; the way that Monkey World teach about the horrors of the pet trade sounds like a very touching and moving experience. Children are shown cages that are about the size of which a monkey is usually kept in in a lab. The children are asked to climb into the cage and explain how they’d feel if they had to live in it. Empathy is a powerful tool in this exercise and allows the children to see the monkeys as animals with personality and feelings like themselves, rather than just inanimate objects. This activity could be powerful in changing children’s attitudes to all animals and I was reassured that there are more fun and light hearted games used with younger children! I would love to see one of these lessons taught and can only imagine what a special day it is for children to get a visit from Monkey World!

After the tour we spent hours wandering around the park, which was a lot larger than I ever imagined it could be! The range of primates was fantastic and the enclosures so beautifully designed. I saw chimps for the first time and really enjoyed watching their intelligent minds figure out the best way to eat their ice lollies!

WP_20140519_13_29_22_Pro

We met some incredibly friendly gibbons who insisted on coming to say hello! I will always say that the sound of a gibbon is the most beautiful noise in the world!

WP_20140519_12_02_29_Pro20140519152208

The baby orang-utans were beautiful, joyful, funny and so intriguing! We were lucky enough to stare into their beautiful eyes when one of them seemed to take a particular liking to my friend Holly’s bag!

WP_20140519_13_54_51_Pro20140519151443

Saved the best till last! The stump tailed macaques! I’ve already announced my love for macaques and this lot are just so ugly that they’re adorable.

WP_20140519_12_56_38_Pro

I had an absolutely fantastic day at Monkey World, in fact I really did not want to leave! My only bug bare is that itĀ is called monkey world, not primate world…but that’s just a silly pet hate!

A wonderful day out for an even more wonderful cause. šŸ™‚

Advertisements
3

How does environmental enrichment effect a Sulawesi crested black macaque?

ImageThe most beautiful,Ā charismatic and interesting animals on our planet? I certainly think so! Over the last few years I have become utterly fascinated by Sulawesi crested black macaques. One of the things I love discussing the most with the public when at work is the work of Selamatkan Yaki, a charity run by Paignton Zoo out in Sulawesi, educating local children about the plight of their local wildlife. This is because unfortunately Sulawesi macaques are critically endangered in the wild and their population has dropped by 40% in the last 80 years!

During this 3rd year of university, as a science specialist, we were asked to write a scientific research report on any topic of our choice. Therefore I decided to carry out a behavioural observation of the Zoo’s Sulawesi macaques. The study aimed to look at the effect of active environmental enrichment on the behaviour on a dominant male, dominant female and a juvenile (2 year old) Sulawesi macaque. Active environmental enrichment being the objects that keepers put into the animals enclosure with the aim of stimulating the animal in the hope to reduce stereotypical behaviour, increase foraging and feeding times, allowing wild like behaviour and just giving the animal a more enjoyable and fulfilled captive life.

The different forms of enrichment included:

  1. Food enrichment
  2. Sensory enrichment
  3. Manipulative enrichment

instantaneous focal animal sampling was used. The macaques were observed for 9 weeks on a Wednesday afternoon, between the times of 1300 and 1430, with a sample interval of 5 minutes.

ImageĀ 

Image

Image

It was found that overall food enrichment was the most effective in achieving the aims previously mentioned above, but it is also clear that all enrichments did have an active positive role in the macaques behaviour. These mean activity budgets also show similar results to that of a previous captive activity budget (Melfi and Feistner 2002) and their wild activity budget (O’Brien and Kinnaird 1997). It is possible to explain the behaviour seen both as a result of the enrichment; for instance the macaques responded better to responsive enrichment and enrichment that gave them control over their environment, andĀ in terms of unavoidable variables such as the weather and a females oestrogen cycle.

The results also informed me that the enrichmentĀ given to the macaques is doneĀ in a pro-active way. Meaning that enrichment is not used as a band aidĀ to fix problems,Ā instead itĀ is clearly to provide the animals with theĀ highest standard of living, giving them an enjoyable and stimulating captive lifestyle.

Even though the time scale and the small sample size of this research deemed it statistically invalid, the mean activity budgets still showed some interesting results. It would be great to repeat this study with a much larger time frame and sample size to see how the results differed.

As stressful as a dissertation can be, I highly enjoyed my time studying the macaques. I just wish I had the resources and time scale to be able to carry out a scientifically valid study. However I now feel I have a far more in depth understanding of my most loved creatures. I hope I can continue to use this love for and knowledge about these animals for years to come, to help their plight in whatever way I can!

If you would like a copy of my report, or a more detailed discussion of the results, just ask and I can send a copy šŸ™‚

Also for more information on the Sulawesi crested black macaques, here are a few great links!

http://selamatkanyaki.com/yaki-2/
http://www.wwct.org.uk/conservation-research/sulawesi/macaques
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/12556/0