Sunday, September 21, 2008

Give me a call, I'm in the book.

Anyone who has experience with monkeys knows that they are intelligent and just like humans they can get bored. As with humans, boredom can lead to problems. The bored child can exhibit rage for no obvious reason and a myriad of other symptoms. So it is with monkeys. The symptoms are many. Excessive destructiveness, fighting among themselves, rocking backwards and forwards for long periods, biting. Together with the physical signs there are also the mental ones. This can be anything from strange behaviour to depression and full blown mental illness. So it is clear that it is not sufficient to simple provide a bed and food for a non human primate. His well being must also include a routine that is interesting to him. I was fascinated recently, to read in 'The Simian', the journal of the Simian Society of America, of a very innovative diversion for entertaining Capuchin monkeys. This was a once only activity. The monkeys were provided with a telephone directory. No it was not expected that that they would look up their friends and make a call. Phones were not provided.

The monkeys progressively destroyed the book, one page after another. Naturally this took a considerable time. The thicker the book the longer it takes. But by mid afternoon the pages of the directory lay all over the enclosure. This game fascinated the monkeys and had their attention for many hours. I include here photographs of before and after with one of our three Capuchin monkeys 'Çhicatin'. You see him busy at work on the directory. I am not suggesting that we should do this too often but it is the kind of innovative thinking that is needed to keep our monkeys interested alert and happy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This act of enrichent displays the extreme willingness that a responsible caregiver will extend themselves in order to try advice that another giver recommends. For example, if a parent has a young genuious level child then to what level will that parent go to inorder to provide the needed attention. All responsible primate caregivers, at least in the beloved United States, will unselfishly give up a substantial portion of their own life in enriching their pet primate. I am not sure what is considered acceptable animal care in a third world country. Possibly a article could be written decscribing the third world abuse of pet chickens.