No matter how inefficient or awkward an animal's response might be, it should be accepted if it leads to the desired goal. It is futile to attempt to train all animals to a common standard. (For additional information on training of nonhuman primates to assist with routine procedures see Laule and others 1992, 1996.)

Mating Patterns

The committee does not advocate mating as a necessary component of psychological well-being, but it does recognize that many facilities breed primates. To promote the well-being of these animals, housing strategies should be based on naturally occurring mating systems. Mating patterns vary among the primates, and we summarize here what is known about the variations.

  • Solitary species. Many nocturnal prosimians and orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) lead largely solitary lives and engage in little physical contact with conspecifics other than maternal associations. Adults, however, often maintain overlapping home ranges and regularly exchange information with long-distance signals, including vocalizations and scent-markings. The term semisocial might be appropriate in classifying these species. Chemical signals are particularly important in prosimian communication (Charles-Dominique 1974). Two patterns of mating have been described in the orangutan: forced copulation and consort relationships. We recommend that a captive female be given access to the male's quarters through a door too small for the male to pass through if she refuses to join him or withdraws from him.
  • Monogamous pairs. A single male and a single female typically bond in some species, such as indris, mongoose lemurs, night monkeys, titis, gibbons, and siamangs. Most of the callitrichid monkeys also appear to be monogamous under captive conditions, but their social system in the wild is more flexible than that of the aforementioned species (see Chapter 6).
  • One-male groups. A single mature male lives with several adult females in several species of forest guenons, many colobine monkeys, the patas monkey, and gelada and hamadryas baboons. Their societies vary in structure; under captive conditions, multiple one-male units of gelada and hamadryas can coexist in large enclosures (see Chapter 8). Aggressive takeover of a one-male unit by a new male is sometimes associated with infant deaths. In the Hanuman langur, for example, a successful challenger might kill young infants in the group; this has been observed in chimpanzees (Alford and others 1986). Obviously, that type of male reproductive strategy has to be taken into account in the captive husbandry of species that pursue it. It is probably unwise to replace a resident langur, chimpanzee, loris, or galago male with a new male while small infants are in the group.
  • Multimale groups. Multiple males and females living in a single group without permanent associations between particular males and females is representative of all major taxa—e.g., the ring-tailed and black lemurs, the ruffed


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement