Abstract # 84:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 17, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 8 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation


Behavioral assessment of a rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) infant and its pigtail macaque (Macaca nemestrina) surrogate mother following cross-species gestation

M. J. Weedman, K. C. Baker, K. M. Phillippi-Falkenstein and H. M. Kubisch
Tulane National Primate Research Center, 18703 Three Rivers Road, Covington, La 70433, USA
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     Using pigtail macaque females as surrogates for rhesus macaque embryos may facilitate reproductive biology research by eliminating the seasonality of rhesus macaque breeding. Interactions between an interspecies maternal-infant pair were documented during the first five months after birth, and compared to a genetically unrelated intraspecies pigtail macaque mother-infant pair, also resulting from embryo transfer. Both infants were delivered via cesarean section and accepted by the mother within 24 h. 10.5 h of instantaneous sampling data were collected on each pair over 21 weeks. During the first month, contact between the pigtail-rhesus pair occurred during 96% of samples and nursing in 51%. Initially, levels of contact and nursing were similar in the pigtail infant, but subsequently diverged; levels of contact and nursing dropping more sharply in the rhesus infant, as would be expected from species differences in naturalistic social groups. Over the five-month period, both mothers directed prosocial behaviors at their infants at similar levels, but the rhesus infant was restrained and retrieved at higher levels, perhaps related to its higher level of locomotor activity. At 12 months of age, the rhesus infant was successfully integrated into a peer setting and later into a larger breeding group, where it currently resides at age 3. This case study suggests that behaviorally healthy and competent rhesus macaques can result from gestation and rearing by pigtail mothers.