Hot Tub Or Videos?

Macaca fuscata                                                    photo credit Yosemite

Isolation is hard for most of us primates; whether we are human or other we are mostly social species. The Orang is perhaps the exception. The Japanese Macaque is certainly social to the extent of sharing a warm bath in the winter.

If we put these creatures in a small cell, we find that their behavior becomes erratic and is classified as abnormal by the animal psychologists. Given the choice of a social hot tub and a small cage, most of us would probably be drawn towards the hot tub.

Of course, a good selection of movies would be welcomed and our friends Macaca fuscata is no exception according to the recent study by Ogua and Matsuzawa in the latest issue of J. Applied Animal welfare Science (1).

Their study group of macaques were spending about a third of their time in abnormal behavior until they were awarded privileges. These were videos and the macaques could turn these on themselves. They showed distinct preferences for movies with people or in animated movies, there being a world shortage of movie stars from the Macaca fuscata population.

Their attention span lasted for most of the movies – nearly two-thirds and it could probably have been more if the subject matter had been better tailored.  Their bad behavior dropped during movie time and even afterwards it had fallen to only spending a quarter of their time being abnormal.

As I don’t have a communal hot tub handy, I’m looking forward to the good weather so that I can be social and get away from videos with people and animations. I’m sure my abnormal behavior rate will drop in proportion.

T. Ogura & T. Matsuzawa, J. Appl. Animal Welfare Sci., 9, 221, (2012).

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