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The effects of predictability in daily husbandry routines on captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

By Daniel H. Gottlieb, Kristine Coleman, Brenda McCowan

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Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) housed indoors experience many routine husbandry activities on a daily basis. The anticipation of these events can lead to stress, regardless of whether the events themselves are positive or aversive in nature. The specific goal of this study was to identify whether increasing the predictability of husbandry events could decrease stress and anxiety in captive rhesus macaques. This study was conducted on 39 single-housed subjects in four indoor rooms at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. Temporal and signaled predictability were added to four daily husbandry events: morning and afternoon feeding, enrichment distribution, and room cleaning. Temporally predictable husbandry events occurred reliably at the same time daily, while signaled predictable husbandry events were preceded by a distinct event-specific signal in the form of a doorbell. Informal tests prior to study onset found the doorbells not to be aversive to the subjects. Subjects received each of four treatments: unpredictable events, temporally predictable events, signaled predictable events, and temporally and signaled predictable events. Change in stress was evaluated by monitoring changes in motor stereotypies and displacement behaviors. Our results showed that subjects displayed less stress and anticipatory behaviors related to feeding and enrichment events when the events were temporally predictable (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 143
Issue 2
Pages 117-127
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.10.010
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Husbandry
  2. Monkeys
  3. predictions