Stull, C., Heagerty, A., Coleman, K. 2022. Video conference technology as a tool for pair introduction in rhesus macaques. Animals 12(14), 1783.
Pair housing is known to promote welfare for macaques in captivity. However, finding compatible partners can be challenging, particularly when animals are not located near one another. Because macaques show interest in videos of conspecifics, we examined the use of video conference technology (Zoom) as a potential tool to assess compatibility in 84 rhesus macaques (2–22 years old) prior to pair introduction. Monkeys involved in the pairs (12 female–female, 21 male–male, 9 female–male) were unfamiliar with each other. We set up a 10 min Zoom session between potential partners (on an iPad in front of the cage). We scored attention to the screen, anxiety, and prosocial behaviors and examined whether these behaviors predicted future pair success. Monkeys spent relatively little time attending to the tablet (median = 13.3%), and attention did not predict pair success (B = −0.06, NS). However, pairs in which attention was primarily shown by one animal had a higher chance of success than those in which both individuals showed similar levels (B = −4.66. p = 0.03). Neither prosocial (B = 0.89, NS) nor anxiety (B = −1.95, p = 0.07) behavior correlated with pair success. While preliminary, our data suggest that video conferencing technology may be useful as a tool for introducing unfamiliar partners prior to a socialization attempt.