Lutz, C. K., Williams, P. C., Sharp, R. M. 2014. Abnormal behavior and associated risk factors in captive baboons (Papio hamadryas spp.). American Journal of Primatology 76(4), 355-361.
Abnormal behavior, ranging from motor stereotypies to self‐injurious behavior, has been documented in captive nonhuman primates, with risk factors including nursery rearing, single housing, and veterinary procedures. Much of this research has focused on macaque monkeys; less is known about the extent of and risk factors for abnormal behavior in baboons. Because abnormal behavior can be indicative of poor welfare, either past or present, the purpose of this study was to survey the presence of abnormal behavior in captive baboons and to identify potential risk factors for these behaviors with an aim of prevention. Subjects were 144 baboons (119 females, 25 males) aged 3–29 (median = 9.18) years temporarily singly housed for research or clinical reasons. A 15‐min focal observation was conducted on each subject using the Noldus Observer® program. Abnormal behavior was observed in 26% of the subjects, with motor stereotypy (e.g., pace, rock, swing) being the most common. Motor stereotypy was negatively associated with age when first singly housed (P < 0.005) while self‐directed behavior (e.g., hair pull, self‐bite) was positively associated with the lifetime number of days singly housed (P < 0.05) and the average number of blood draws per year (P < 0.05). In addition, abnormal appetitive behavior was associated with being male (P < 0.05). Although the baboons in this study exhibited relatively low levels of abnormal behavior, the risk factors for these behaviors (e.g., social restriction, routine veterinary procedures, and sex) appear to remain consistent across primate species.