Abstract # 116:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2012 02:30 PM-02:45 PM: Session 18 (Camellia ) Oral Presentation


SIAMANG (SYMPHALANGUS SYNDACTYLUS) SIBLING PROVIDES INFANT CARE AT THE EL PASO ZOO: EVIDENCE FOR THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COOPERATIVE BREEDING AND ACTIVE TEACHING IN THE GREATEST OF THE LESSER APES

F. G. McCrossin1, B. Benefit2, I. Arney2 and A. Alvarado3
1Las Cruces High School, Las Cruces, NM 88011, USA, 2New Mexico State University, 3El Paso Zoo
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     In February 2011 an adult male siamang at the El Paso Zoo was documented actively teaching latrine use to a 3 year old female (born 12/2/2007). Active teaching may occur because siamangs are cooperative rather than simply biparental breeders. During 14 observation days over 10 months following a new infant’s birth (05/2/2011) we observed the juvenile kidnap and carry the infant 8 times (08/1 to 10/23), carry the infant in response to its request twice (08/14 to 11/5), and babysit the infant after mother walked away on 8 occasions (08/21/2011 to 03/4/2012). The juvenile brought food to the baby 4 times and emptied treats from an enrichment tube for the baby once. The juvenile plays with the infant on a daily basis, occupying it while her mother feeds or rests. As of 03/4/2012 the infant travels independently, frequently moving from mother to father to juvenile with no obvious preference. On 3/4/2012 the infant began following the juvenile to the latrine and carefully observing its use, although it is not expected use the latrine independently until she/he is 3 years old. That siamang males contribute to child rearing is accepted, but instances of juveniles caring for infants are treated as resulting from special circumstances, none of which occur in this case. This evidence suggests that active teaching observed in siamangs is related to cooperative breeding.