Abstract # 44:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2012 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 9 (Gardenia) Poster Presentation


EVALUATION OF ST. JOHN’S WORT AS A SOCIAL COHESION AID FOR SOCIALLY-INEXPERIENCED ADULT MALE RHESUS MACAQUES

M. B. Sarnowski, B. J. Bernacky, S. P. Lambeth and S. J. Schapiro
Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, Department of Vetrinary Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Bastrop, TX 78602, USA
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     Social aggression is a common occurrence in many group-housed rhesus colonies (Macaca mulatta). While some levels are tolerable, high levels of aggression causing wounding, hospitalization, or even death are not. Over the past four years, five adult males housed in unimale-multifemale harems (ages 6-12 yrs., mean=7.2 yrs.) have been placed on St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) after bouts of severe male-female aggression. All treatments were given during peak times of aggression, social introductions and/or during the breeding season (July-February). The duration and number of treatment regimens varied across subjects (duration ranged from 12-152 days, average 70.5 days; number of treatments ranged from 1-3, average 1.8) but the same dosage was always used. The effectiveness of the treatment was assessed using animal care records; specifically wounding within the cage and wounding that required medical intervention. Analysis of daily wounding rates before, during, and after treatment showed mixed results; wounding rates declined in some groups as a function of treatment, while others showed no change, and still others exhibited an increase in wounding. These results indicate that St. John’s Wort should not be viewed as a blanket treatment, but that it can be useful for certain animals. Additional investigation to further determine the characteristics of males for whom treatment with St. John’s Wort is most likely to result in decreases in wounding-level aggression are called for.