Project properties

Title Gorillas & Mangabeys - Rotterdam Zoo
Group Behavioural Ecology
Project type thesis
Credits 36-39
Supervisor(s) Filipe Cunha
Examiner(s) Marc Naguib
Contact info
Begin date 2021/09/01
End date
Description In this thesis, the student will be continuing the project of a previous thesis. Currently, in Blijdorp, the mangabeys are separated into two groups: a single species one and another housed with gorillas. We are interested in better understand the heterospecific relationships between those species in a captive situation of course. The previous thesis was developed by Bob van Strien and you can find some details in the abstract:
Throughout the last few decades, zoos have shared an increased interest in the effects that visitor-produced stimuli have on zoo animals. Although research results vary, it is generally assumed that visitors have a negative effect. The aim of this study is to examine the effects that mixed-species housing, as social enrichment strategy can have on the behavior of primates and visitor-induced stress. For this thesis, observations were carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period (visitors absent) and during an open period (visitors present). Scan and continuous sampling were used to measure behavior of white-naped mangabeys (Cercocebus lunulatus) and western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) housed in single-species enclosures at the Dutch Rotterdam Zoo, and of golden-bellied mangabeys (Cercocebus chrysogaster) and gorillas, together in a mixed-species environment at the Royal Burgers’ Zoo, Arnhem. The lockdown period was associated with an increase in affiliative intra- and interspecific interactions, as well as a decrease in stereotypical behavior, but intra- and inter-group aggression were not significantly affected. Mangabeys in both zoos were also more likely to be located on their climbing frames and in the mixed enclosure, both species were less likely to be visible during the open period, although this could not be compared to the single-species enclosures, where hiding space was limited. Overall, there were few behavioral differences between the mixed and the single-species enclosures. Thus, my finding suggests that a mixed-species habitat does not reduce visitor-induced stress. However, the results do support the prediction that visitors have a negative effect on primate behavior. This indicates that if zoos could minimalize primates’ perception of visitor stimuli, this could potentially increase animal welfare.
Used skills
Requirements BHE30306 and BHE20303