Unusual behaviour of captive-raised gibbons: Implications for welfare

Wildlife Research Group, Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, UK.
Primates (Impact Factor: 1.34). 11/2006; 47(4):322-6. DOI: 10.1007/s10329-006-0190-z
Source: PubMed


Unusual behaviours not normally seen in the wild were studied in 52 captive agile (Hylobates agilis albibarbis) and 23 Müllers gibbons (H. muelleri spp) at three locations within the Kalaweit Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. Unusual behaviours included stereotypic behaviour (SB), human-directed masturbation and posterior presenting. These data were collected over 18 months as part of an ongoing study into behavioural adaptation of gibbons in a rehabilitation programme. Data were also collected on the unusual behaviours observed, for example, SB, human-directed masturbation and posterior presenting. I suggest causes of the abnormal behaviours and propose solutions to reduce their incidence in order to improve the gibbon's progress in rehabilitation. From this study I conclude that most gibbons can be rehabilitated from the point of view of acquiring and maintaining a normal behavioural repertoire once in suitable housing. Encouraging the gibbons to reduce and/or stop these unusual behaviours is key to the welfare of the gibbons while in the rehabilitation programme and to successful release into a forest habitat.

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Available from: Susan Cheyne
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    • "There is a variety of problems facing gibbon rehabilitation: some of the gibbons will have spent their lives in tiny cages, drugged and chained, while others will have been relatively well treated and may experience difficulty adapting to life without their human owners (Cheyne 2006). Wild gibbons usually live in family groups containing an adult male and female and 1–3 offspring. "

    Full-text · Chapter · Dec 2008
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    • "Descriptions of the resocialization of primates with little or no previous exposure to conspecifics have also come from sanctuary sources, usually as abstracts or newsletter articles. Cheyne (2006) correlated aberrant behaviors with the backgrounds of captive-raised gibbons in an Indonesian sanctuary, also including information on reducing such behaviors. Other authors have behaviorally characterized sanctuary spider monkeys (Anaya-Huertas & Mondragon-Ceballos, 2001); chimpanzees (La Prairie, 2003); and owl monkeys (Chambers, Gossett, & Evans, 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Nonhuman primates have become common in sanctuaries, and a few such facilities even specialize in their care. Sanctuaries can improve the well being of many unwanted primates, especially in terms of housing and socialization. However, diverse facilities call themselves sanctuaries, and they have varying conditions, care programs, and restrictions. In addition, a general lack of regulation of sanctuaries for nonhuman animals creates problems in enforcing even minimal standards. The application of animal welfare science in the sanctuary setting can help foster high standards and empirically based decision making. Sanctuaries offer excellent environments for studying primates without the limitations inherent in breeding, exhibition, and medical research facilities. However, some sanctuaries avoid scientific study. Many sanctuaries have little opportunity to study animal welfare in a systematic manner due to financial considerations or a lack of specific expertise among staff and volunteers. Most published sanctuary research involves reintroduction procedures at sanctuaries in source countries. Nevertheless, one chimpanzee sanctuary's successes in performing long-term studies and using simple evaluation methods, such as check sheets, have demonstrated the benefits of applying animal welfare science to sanctuary-housed nonhuman primates.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2007 · Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
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    ABSTRACT: We observed and recorded the behaviours of gibbons undergoing rehabilitation, before and after release, to document the behavioural and social changes of gibbons in the rehabilitation program and develop criteria for determining the suitability of a pair of gibbons for release. Hylobates albibarbis were observed at the Kalaweit Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Data were collected on animals both pre- and post-release and on wild gibbons for comparison. Data presented here show that reintroduced gibbons are capable of surviving without human intervention. In addition, their behaviour is similar to that of wild gibbons in terms of activity budgets, position in the canopy, body posture, pair association (PA) and diet. Prior to this study, no attempt has been made to quantify the rehabilitation process for gibbons, and rehabilitation project personnel require data reporting all aspects of a release so that improvements can be made. It is important to report these data for the benefit of future releases. Criteria, based on the behaviour of wild gibbons, are proposed to assist rehabilitation centers in assessing the suitability of gibbon pairs for release.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2008 · Biodiversity and Conservation
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