Abstract # 25:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 17, 2006 10:10 AM-10:30 AM: Session 3 (Regency East #3) Oral Presentation

Gerald C Ruppenthal’S Contributions to the Psychological Well-being of Captive Primates

M. Novak1,2
1University of Massachusetts, Department of Psychology, Amherst, MA 01003-9271, USA, 2New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School
     The term “psychological well-being” was initially applied to nonhuman primates in a mandate passed by congress in 1985 and implemented as law in 1991. This mandate posed many formidable challenges, particularly for primatologists working in laboratory settings. However, some primatologists like Gerry Ruppenthal were clearly way ahead of the field. Gerry set the “gold standard” for infant primate care and established new procedures for rearing premature or rejected infants in the nursery. One of his more important contributions was his adherence to rearing infant monkeys with limited peer as opposed to continuous peer contact during the period of early development, a view that was counterintuitive to those unfamiliar with Harlow’s research on peer-reared monkeys. Indeed, converging research in several laboratories has shown that infant monkeys reared on surrogates and provided with 30-120 minutes of peer experience each day are less emotional and less reactive than peer-reared monkeys. Like their mother-peer reared counterparts, surrogate-peer-reared monkeys reproduce normally, show appropriate maternal behavior, and when maintained in large social groups developed the species-typical matrilineal social organization. Ruppenthal was dedicated to minimizing the risks associated with nursery rearing and with promoting the psychological well-being of the monkeys in his care, a legacy for us all.