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Artificial weaning of Old World monkeys: benefits and costs

By V. Reinhardt

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Permanent mother-infant separation prior to natural weaning is a common husbandry practice in monkey breeding colonies. In the United States, all eight Regional Primate Research Centres have such colonies. Under undisturbed conditions, Old World monkey mothers wean their infants at the age of about 1 year. Natural weaning is a gradual process. It implies that the mother, over a period of several weeks or months, more and more consistently discourages her infant to suck on her breasts. Once the mother stops nursing the infant for good, the affectionate bond between the two is not broken. The young usually remains in the maternal group at least until prepuberty. Under confinement conditions, artificial weaning is an abrupt occurrence that takes place several months prior to the biologically normal age of weaning. It implies that the still-nursed infant is taken away from the mother and subsequently reared alone or with other artificially weaned infants. This study provides data-supported evidence that noninterference in the natural weaning process enhances rather than inhibits the maternal reproductive system, presumably because it avoids the intrinsic stress that is associated with mother-infant separation. Thus, artificial weaning not only is an avoidable source of distress but also may be an economically unsound management practice.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 5
Issue 2
Pages 151-156
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1207/S15327604JAWS0502_05
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Institute, Washington, Dist. of Columbia,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal rights
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Laboratory animal science
  5. Mammals
  6. Monkeys
  7. peer-reviewed
  8. Primates
  9. Reviews
  10. vertebrates
  11. weaning
  1. peer-reviewed