Abstract # 134:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 14, 2014 03:00 PM-03:15 PM: Session 21 (Mary Gay) Oral Presentation


D. A. Bertrand1, C. M. Berman1 and S. W. Margulis2
1University at Buffalo - SUNY, 380 MFAC, Ellicott Complex, North Campus, Buffalo, NY 14261, USA, 2Canisius University

Zoos must educate and entertain as many visitors as possible, while ensuring the welfare of their charges. Previous research has shown that unfamiliar humans can be sources of stress for captive primates as evidenced by specific behavioral indicators. This study explored possible effects of visitor presence, numbers, noise levels, age, and proximity on documented self-directed behaviors (SDBs), aggression, social behaviors, and the use of space in one group of eight Macaca nigra at the Buffalo Zoo. Two-hundred-thirty hours of data were collected via scan sampling and within-interval sampling. Loglinear and chi square analyses indicated that most macaques were significantly more likely to display BSIs under certain conditions. Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks tests were used to explore significance at a group level. A majority of monkeys displayed more SDBs (T=1,p<.01), use the back of their enclosure (T=1,p<.01), and stay inside (T=0,p<.01), and were less likely to engage in social behavior when visitors were present vs. absent (T=0,p<.01). Contrary to expectations, six monkeys showed more SDBs when noise levels were low than high (T=0,p<.01). Few monkeys showed any significant responses to other visitor characteristics. Overall the monkeys appeared to be mildly stressed by visitors. Nevertheless, the varied results among monkeys and behaviors indicate that individuals respond in unique ways to potential stressors and that analytical approaches, as well as practical exhibit modifications, need to take this into consideration.