Abstract # 36:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 06:30 PM-09:00 PM: Session 5 (Mission Bay Ballroom CDE) Poster Presentation


DO RHESUS MACAQUES (MACACA MULATTA) PREFERENTIALLY INCORPORATE NOISY OBJECTS IN THREAT DISPLAYS?

S. P. Leland1,2, A. M. West1,3, F. S. Muhammad2, W. L. Wagner3, A. L. Cook2 and J. M. Erwin4,5
1BIOQUAL, Inc., Department of Primate Psychology, Rockville, MD, USA, 2BIOQUAL Inc., Department of Primate Biology and Medicine, Research Boulevard., Rockville, MD, USA, 3BIOQUAL Inc., Department of Primate Biology and Medicine, Parklawn Drive., Rockville, MD, USA, 4Foundation for Comparative and Conservation Biology, Needmore, PA, USA, 5VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA
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Captive primates are often provided with manipulable objects, such as commercially available pet toys, as environmental enrichment. Such objects often sustain attention, enable environmental control, induce activity, promote play, and result in reduced self-directed aggression. Macaques sometimes incorporate objects in threat displays, biting the toy rather than themselves [Leland et al., 2007]. During monthly behavioral assessments performed at an AAALAC-accredited facility, macaques were observed using toys that contained squeakers (“noisy toys”) in threat displays. This study was conducted to evaluate whether sound was a salient feature of enrichment objects. Seven rhesus macaques, two females and five males, that had incorporated noisy toys into threat displays, were observed while they each had access to one noisy toy and one without a squeaker. Each animal was observed for ten 5-minute intervals over 4-weeks to evaluate toy use and preference in threat displays, contact, and active manipulation. No difference was found between the time spent threatening with the noisy toy versus the silent toy [Wilcoxon test; p=0.625], nor was there evidence of an overall preference for either kind of toy; however, two individuals exhibited a significant preference for the noisy toy over the silent toy, one during play and one involving contact [Wilcoxon test; p<0.04 and p<0.02, respectively]. These results indicate the value of attending to individual difference when evaluating the effectiveness of enrichment objects.