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Use of Vertical Enclosure Space and Species-Typical Locomotion by a Rehabilitating Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps)

By Jake Funkhouser

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With wild spider monkey populations in decline, investigations contributing to captive welfare, and successful rehabilitation and reintroduction knowledge is increasingly pressing. Quantifying and analyzing the appropriateness of naturalistic enclosure designs to foster species-typical behaviors is an effective way to address both of these needs. This study investigates enclosure space use, vertical space preference, substrate use, positional/postural modes, and interactions with human caregivers of a wild-caught, pet-trade rehabilitant Columbian black spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps rufiventris= 1). Video data collected daily from August to October 2015 via focal animal sampling (from 08:00 to 10:00) at Alouatta Sanctuary, Panama provided samples for analysis. It was hypothesized that the subject would differentially utilize her enclosure’s vertical space, substrates, positional/postural modes across substrate types, and vary her association with humans over time. Results indicated the subject’s overall use of species-typical locomotive modes did not resemble that of wild populations, but did represent substrate-specific wild locomotive modes. Similarly, the subject’s use of vertical space was significantly affected by the presence or absence of her human caregivers. This research highlights key points absent in existing literature: the need for enclosures constructed by materials resembling wild substrate-types, and the consideration of caregivers’ influence when rehabilitating New World, arboreal primates.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Pages 48
Department Primate Behavior
Degree Bachelor of Science
Language English
University Central Washington University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Monkeys
  3. open access
  4. Rehabilitation
  5. Zoo and captive wild animals
  1. open access