Williams, L. E., Coke, C. S., Weed, J. L. 2017. Socialization of adult owl monkeys (Aotus sp.) in captivity. American Journal of Primatology 79(1), e22521.

Social housing has often been recommended as one‐way to address the psychological well‐being of captive non‐human primates. Published reports have examined methods to socialize compatible animals by forming pairs or groups. Successful socialization rates vary depending on the species, gender, and environment. This study presents a retrospective look at pairing attempts in two species of owl monkeys, Aotus nancymaaeand A. azarae, which live in monogamous pairs in the wild. The results of 477 pairing attempt conducted with captive, laboratory housed owl monkeys and 61 hr of behavioral observations are reported here. The greatest success pairing these owl monkeys occurred with opposite sex pairs, with an 82% success rate. Opposite sex pairs were more successful when females were older than males. Female–female pairs were more successful than male–male (MM) pairs (62% vs 40%). Successful pairs stayed together between 3 and 7 years before the animals were separated due to social incompatibility. Vigilance, eating, and sleeping during introductions significantly predicted success, as did the performance of the same behavior in both animals. The results of this analysis show that it is possible to give captive owl monkeys a social alternative even if species appropriate social partners (i.e., opposite sex partners) are not available. The focus of this report is a description of one potential way to enhance the welfare of a specific new world primate, the owl monkey, under laboratory conditions. More important is how the species typical social structure of owl monkeys in nature affects the captive management of this genus.

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