Abstract # 2211 Event # 115:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2007 01:30 PM-01:45 PM: Session 13 (North Main Hall F/G) Oral Presentation

Desensitization and Husbandry Training as a Method to Reduce Fear in Singly-housed Male Rhesus Macaques

A. W. Clay1,2, M. A. Bloomsmith1,2, M. J. Marr3 and T. L. Maple2,3
1Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA, 2Center for Conservation and Behavior, School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, 3School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology
     Desensitization to elements of the laboratory environment was employed in an effort to reduce fearful behavior in singly-housed rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and was compared to the effectiveness of either basic husbandry training or the passage of time. Male macaques between 2 and 7 years old were selected for the study (N=18) from a pool of animals that had shown fearful behavior. Subjects were videotaped for 6 hours during a baseline period for behavioral assessment, and were then randomly assigned to either the desensitization group, the husbandry training group, or the control group. Following 6 weeks of treatment for the two experimental groups (25 training sessions of 5 minutes each), post-treatment behavioral data were collected. Preliminary data analysis by MANOVA for a subset of the 18 study subjects has indicated that all groups showed a statistically significant reduction in stress related behaviors (yawning, body shakes and vigorous scratching) over the course of the study [F(1,6)=20.43, p<0.05]. Fearful behavior (cringing, rapid glances, freezing, fear grimacing) did reduce over time for both training groups, and increased slightly over time for the control group, but these results were not statistically significant in the subset of animals analyzed thus far. These results indicate that desensitization and husbandry training may help reduce some elements of fearful behavior, while the simple passage of time may reduce stress-related behaviors in animals identified as fearful. Training methods used in this study may be taught to staff members in the future.