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J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2002;5(4):309-19.

The effects of caretaker-primate relationships on primates in the laboratory.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Scotland.


As contact with caretakers is likely to make up the majority of human-primate interactions in laboratories, caretakers represent an important influence in the lives of captive primates. The aim of this study was to determine how caretaker-primate relationships affected the behavior of primates in the laboratory. We examined whether stump-tailed macaques (Macaca arctoides) who were evaluated by caretakers as being either friendly or unfriendly differed in the quality and quantity of interactions with their caretakers during husbandry procedures and in their behavior at times of high and low levels of caretaker activity. Results revealed that animals who had friendly relationships with caretakers were less disturbed by routine husbandry procedures, approached caretakers more often, and were willing to accept food offered by caretakers compared with animals considered unfriendly toward their caretakers. The study concluded that the quality of the primate-caretaker relationship may have an important impact on behavior and may have implications for the well-being of animals and caretakers, as both can benefit from positive feedback from one another.

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