Information that supplements the second edition of the PASA Operations Manual, but is not part of the manual
Occupational Health and Safety
Nursery Care for Orphaned Infants
Peer Group Housing
• Infants and Juveniles
• Adult Females
• Adult Males
Management of Social Communities
Management of Isolated Individuals
Enrichment Programs and Activities
• Naturalistic Enrichment
• Environmental Enrichment
• Social Enrichment
Facility Design and Construction
Occupational Health and Safety
Preventative medicine is designed to ensure human safety and protect human health. PASA suggests sanctuary managers assess the risk of infection to employees and other people who may work with animals and their by-products. Where a risk is identified, appropriate preventative or control measures should be applied.
Non-human primates have long been noted for their zoonotic potential. All primates should be treated as potential carriers of zoonotic diseases. Similarly, all staff should be considered as potential sources of infection for the animals. Additionally diseases might be spread by sanctuary visitors if the enclosure design or the management allows them to be close to animals. Diseases can be spread between non-human primates and humans by numerous methods, including physical contact (bites, scratches, exposure to excreted material) and airborne or aerosol transmission.
Colds, flu, measles, salmonellosis, viral hepatitis and many other infections can be passed to primates and may cause serious disease in primate populations.
Frequent hand washing is generally considered to be the single most important measure to reduce or prevent the spread of infection.
Many of the animals examined and treated by veterinarians will be sick and therefore the risk of zoonotic infection is often higher for veterinary staff than for most animal care staff.
Sanctuaries should develop and implement an Occupational Health and Safety Manual.
It is the responsibility of volunteers to make sure they are up-to-date with relevant vaccinations, acquire knowledge of the diseases in the area in which they are working including malaria, and take all necessary precautions to minimize the risks of these diseases. It is also recommended that volunteers be fully medically insured. As with all new staff, a two-week period of isolation from animals is recommended on arrival.
Nursery Care for Orphaned Infants
An orphaned great ape infant under 12 months of age requires a 24-hour caregiver and spends most of the time clinging to their surrogate mother. The same is true of most primate species, at least up to six months of age.
It is preferable to use an adult female conspecific as a surrogate mother. If this is not possible, each infant should have a primary human caregiver, with other caregivers filling in when the primary caregiver is not working. If human caregivers are not available, infants of some species of monkey can be placed together with stuffed toys or hot water bottles wrapped in cloth as surrogate mothers.
Caregivers should typically encourage contact with conspecifics as soon as possible, but only when considered safe for the infant. As the infant becomes integrated with conspecifics, human contact should be gradually reduced.
Infants should be housed in a safe environment that allows for climbing, exploration and play.
Peer Group Housing
In sanctuaries where the acquisition rate is high, individuals are often integrated into groups of similar age and size in order to reduce chances of attacks from older individuals. If the sanctuary is considering releasing individuals back to the wild, integration into a wider range of ages may be preferable. Furthermore, a group that has a broader and more natural age composition can facilitate management of rescued primates. For example, some individuals, particularly young alpha males, may require the discipline of an older male to reduce aggression. Caregivers and managers should be careful to observe such interactions within peer groups.
If possible, integration of adult females into younger groups can be a useful tool for controlling bullying older males.
When integrating individuals into social group, a detailed record of the process should be kept on file and to facilitate future integrations. Debriefing is important to assess the success of the process and to discuss possible methods or procedures to improve the integration process in the future.
The integration procedure should be carefully planned; all caregivers should be informed of what to do in case of an emergency, various scenarios of what could happen should be discussed between all relevant staff, and an assessment of the individual(s) and group(s) involved should be conducted. Integrations should not be conducted in an open area where the staff has no control.
Staff on duty should have backup support if it is necessary to separate the individuals quickly. Fire extinguishers and cups of water are useful if it is necessary to separate two individuals that are fighting; experienced caregivers must attend all doors leading into the rooms used during integration and the veterinarian should be on-duty and aware that the integrations are happening, in case emergency treatment or surgery is necessary. Integrations should be initiated early in the day to provide individuals with time to get to know each during the day with observers present at all times.
Depending on the social structure of the primate species in the sanctuary, e.g., fission-fusion, single male groups, multi-male groups, or female dominant societies, allowing the normal social organization of that species and ensuring individuals within the group are happy will likely require periodic introduction or removal of individuals depending on space, etc. Introduction of unfamiliar individuals, particularly into adult groups or closed groups (groups that have not received a new member for a number of years), can be difficult and will likely elicit aggressive behavior towards the new individual.
Integration procedures are heavily dependent on the type of housing, the species, the individual animals concerned, and whether the animals will later be reintroduced. However, the following provides suggestions about integration with different age groups.
Infants and Juveniles
It is advised to only integrate infants and juveniles with similar aged and sized individuals or females that are known to be good with infants or juveniles. Any integration of an infant or juvenile should be conducted with the primary caregiver in attendance as it will help to reassure the individual that they are safe and also serve to reassure the other individuals; the caregiver can also control the interactions between the newcomer and the residents. It is best to introduce one or two residents with the newcomer first, and once the newcomer is relaxed, playing and confident with the resident individuals, other individuals can be added one at a time, giving one to two hours between adding new residents to the newcomer. Often the integration of an infant or juvenile to a peer group can happen in the space of one to two days.
Integration should take place with the infant/juvenile able to escape to a safe room through an opening small enough that the adult males cannot enter. Doors with adjustable openings will allow infants/juveniles to move freely between the safe room and the room where the adults are. (A stuffed toy used as a surrogate mother can be left in the “safe haven” to provide comfort.)
If an infant or juvenile is being integrated into a mixed age group, then the process is much slower. The process should start with one or two adult females that are very stable and likely to adopt the infant/juvenile. Once a good relationship between the two is developed (which can take several weeks to occur), the group can begin reforming around these individuals. The process should start with lowest-ranking females and proceed to the highest-ranking females. Once all females are successfully integrated with the infant/juvenile, if and how to introduce the males should be addressed.
Behavior of males toward the infant/juvenile through bars/mesh should be assessed. Observers should see positive affiliation through the bars or mesh, with no aggressive behavior, before going to the next stage. The infant/juvenile should be confident with the adult males and display the correct submissive behavior.
All initial integrations should be conducted in the holding facilities and not in larger enclosures. When taking the step to integrate adult males, it is recommended to start with the alpha male, leaving the subordinates last. Once the infant/juvenile is successfully integrated with the alpha male and all the females, it is possible to add subordinate males to the group, one at a time. This should be conducted over a period of weeks. It may take a week, or even up to a month between integrations.
In many cases, males will see unrelated younger males as a threat and will attack them. However, there are also examples where adult males are very tolerant of infant/juvenile males. If that situation exists then integration of these young males into a mixed age/ multi-male group can proceed. If the situation is uncertain, integration with the mixed age/multi-male group is not advised.
As with infants and juveniles, it is recommended to integrate adolescents initially with similar aged or younger individuals, particularly if the adolescent has been isolated from other primates for most of his/her life. Adolescent males can be difficult to integrate. The same gradual process for infants and juveniles should be adopted for this age group. If the individual has limited social skills, allow an extended period of time with a smaller tolerant group before adding others, to allow the individual to learn the social skills to survive in a larger social unit.
Adults that have been isolated for years require special consideration and are discussed in more detail according to sex. When integrating adults that have been living in a social setting either at the same PASA member sanctuary or another sanctuary, then the process is similar to that of infants, juveniles, and adolescents.
Integration should occur first through bars or mesh, where the newcomer can see and interact with all the individuals of the group. Caregivers or researchers should pay close attention to those individuals in the group who demonstrate friendly behavior towards the newcomer. Grooming is a key indicator before proceeding to the next step. There should be no pre-planned timeframe for when to open the doors, only plan who will be the next individual added. All primates and humans need to be calm. Quietly opening a door, so that neither animal is aware it is open, can facilitate an easy and quiet interaction.
A method that has been successfully used to introduce adult guenons is to move all animals to an enclosure that is new to all monkeys involved.
Adult females can sometimes be integrated directly with the alpha male, if she is in estrus, the alpha male is demonstrating friendly behavior, and she is presenting to him with confidence. Once they have been successfully integrated, they should not be separated again and the group should be reformed around these individuals. Adding to this grouping should occur gradually, allowing the newcomer to develop a relationship with each new individual added to the group. If an aggressive interaction is observed and the new female is not receiving support from the alpha male or other individuals, further integration should be stopped. The newcomer needs to be given time to develop an ally base before more individuals from the original group are integrated with her. Males are more likely to be supportive of new females. It is necessary to ensure the new female has time to develop her relationship with the females, especially if the group is large (15 or more individuals). The integration process can take between two months to two years to complete, often with many stops and starts.
It is recommended to integrate adult males with females first. Once this has been successfully achieved, it is possible to select one or two females, preferably high ranking, to be companions with the new male when integrating additional males. Always start with the alpha male and ensure that friendly behavior between the new and alpha male has occurred before adding additional males. Do not conduct the integration when females are in estrus as it can cause heightened aggression.
Management of Social Communities
Most sanctuaries have similar numbers of males and females. Many have multi-male groups and high numbers of males in the same group. The social structures of species will dictate the management of social communities including the ability to maintain multi-male groups. While it is possible with chimpanzees, bachelor groups of gorillas have had limited success. One male gorilla typically assumes the role of dominant male and how the other males react dictates if the group stays intact. Due to the limited number of African sanctuaries housing gorillas, transferring problematic gorillas to other sanctuaries is generally not an option, and therefore sanctuaries are advised to avoid the establishment of bachelor gorilla groups.
Many monkey species have multi-male societies, and if introduced when young they should integrate and co-exist successfully. Other monkey species form strictly single male groups and as such, there may be a need to form all-male groups if the sex ratio is fairly even. Sanctuaries should evaluate and research whether all-male group formation is possible with the species in their care if there is no option to house the males in typical groups.
Management of Isolated Individuals
Individuals isolated from infancy show a higher level of abnormal behavior than those isolated as juveniles or adolescents. Such individuals may be placed within sanctuaries at later stages of development or in some cases middle age. They tend to exhibit social ineptness and in some cases extreme difficulty co-existing in larger groups. Apart from social issues, the anxiety of these primates may be manifested by, for example, an unwillingness to leave holding facilities.
A plan is needed to ensure that re-socialization and acclimatization do take place; no progress will be made if the individual is simply left alone. The needs of the individual must be taken into consideration when deciding the program. The individual should be very comfortable with the environment before social introductions occur. Initial communication with new individuals should be through bars and mesh.
Enrichment Programs and Activities
The primary goal of environmental enrichment is to enhance the life of rescued primates and to simulate as much as possible the behavioral repertoire of that species as exhibited in the wild. Sanctuary environments place severe limitations on the social interactions and other behaviors available to primates. Even in sanctuaries that provide large enclosures and multiple social partners, individuals lack the freedom to distance themselves from conspecifics. Enclosures do not replicate the rich environment of a wild habitat where groups or communities may roam around a forest of several hundred kilometers.
As much as possible, enclosures should replicate a wild environment. For example, large forested enclosures can provide natural foods and opportunities for primates to learn the phenology of the forest, orientation and movement through forested areas, and lessons about encountering wildlife such as snakes, birds, small mammals, insects, and non-palatable and poisonous foods. Feeding four times a day simulates normal feeding bouts in the wild. If groups are living in environments where some natural feeding can take place, feeding three times a day can be adequate. Allowing individuals to sometimes sleep outside overnight in variable weather conditions and attempt nest building can also be part of naturalist enrichment programs.
Environmental enrichment applies to the artificial environment created to contain the primates, as well as additional furniture that may be added if the enclosure is not sufficient to stimulate a full repertoire of behavior.
• Indoor facilities should be sufficient in height for primates to feel comfortable and explore. They should be designed to allow use of as much of the volume of the indoor facility as possible.
• Climbing structures should enable primates to avoid each other.
• Sleeping benches, platforms or hammocks should be provided in sufficient quantity that all individuals can be bedded separately and are not expected to share. Placement of hammocks and benches should be organized so that any disturbed debris from higher structures does not fall directly onto one below.
• Indoor facilities should provide a good external view of surroundings so that primates can observe what is happening in other parts of the sanctuary.
• For apes, sleeping materials such as hay, grass, shredded paper, or hessian bags should be provided to stimulate nest-building behavior.
• All primates should have shelter from the rain at all times and from the sun.
• A combination of permanent and removable structures and objects is advisable and can include natural and artificial objects.
While sanctuaries are encouraged to use natural materials, enrichment may be supplemented with the following if deemed appropriate and available: cardboard boxes, vines, ropes, fire hose hammocks, plastic tubs, shredded paper, tires, paper bags, sheets (non-elastic), frozen treats (e.g. ice blocks), hard boiled eggs, nursery toys, and burlap sacks.
One of the most important types of enrichment for many primate species, apart from a natural environment, is social enrichment. Allowing primates to express their natural inclinations, such as social living (in groups, family units, or communities) is important. Whenever possible, single-species groups should be maintained in normal social groupings for the species. Where no conspecifics are available, sanctuaries should consider mixed-species groupings (however, caution against hybridization is advised).
Toys and other artificial devices should be used with extreme caution. Staff should ensure animals cannot use the toys to cause harm to other primates or personnel or to damage the facility. (E.g. toys should not have removable batteries or other removable parts.) Behavioral enrichment made from natural substances is much preferred.
Well-formulated diets are vital for good health. Where possible, natural diets are recommended which include, if possible, wild fruits (which are much higher in fiber and lower in sugar than domestic varieties) and leaves. However, if this is not possible, the diet should be based on nutritional content, rather than attempting to find “similar” food items. In most cases, cooked food should be kept to a minimum. Candy and other sweets should not be fed on a regular basis – the exception might be in order to tempt ill primates to take necessary medication.
Diets should be evaluated regularly. Monitoring the food and the feeding practice ensures that animals are actually eating what is being fed (i.e., not preferentially taking certain items). The diet can be nutritionally analyzed to monitor for deficiencies. Nutritional deficiencies can also be monitored diagnostically in blood (e.g., serum vitamin levels, hematology and blood chemistry). Radiography to measure bone density is a useful adjunct test where possible.
Food should be monitored for potential poisons. It is important to check enclosures for toxic plants (especially new enclosures) and remove these plants if judged to be a hazard, i.e. the animals are naive and consuming them. However, primates that are part of a reintroduction program need to learn what to avoid and can be trained to avoid toxic plants.
Facility Design and Construction
The main purpose of containment is to ensure the safety of the animals and the humans caring for them. Ensuring that species-specific behavior is maintained during containment is important for minimizing stress to the individual animal, providing a good quality of life, and facilitating success of release programs.
Adequate ventilation is often overlooked in the construction of indoor areas. The recommended number of air changes per hour should depend on the size of the inside enclosures, the local climatic conditions, the frequency of use of the outside areas and the total number of primates kept.
The availability and cost of materials should be taken into consideration when designing facilities. Where possible, durable materials that will allow for longevity of the facilities without high maintenance are recommended.
The sanctuary veterinarian should give input to enclosure design, to minimize disease spread and facilitate veterinary interventions.
Walls: Bricks or block work and bars or welded mesh panels
Floors: Concrete and/or tiles
Ceilings: Bars, welded mesh, or concrete
Roof: Concrete, iron sheets, or tiles
Quarantine facilities should include a staff area with:
• Storage space for cleaning equipment.
• A rest room and a locker room with shower facilities for staff.
• A single or double corridor system.
• A footbath (containing an effective disinfectant to be used prior to entering the quarantine facility).
Floors, walls, and ceiling should be impervious to moisture to facilitate cleaning and disinfecting.
The veterinary facility should be located in close proximity to the holding areas of the resident population while still maintaining a quarantine distance of 20m. It is advisable that the resident captive population cannot see into the treatment room or observe the veterinarians at work. It is also important to ensure that a sedated individual should not be aroused by the noise of other primate residents. The facility needs access to running water and electricity. If the sanctuary depends on solar power, a generator may be needed for heavy machinery such as x-ray machines.
The typical main components are:
(a) Treatment/examination/operating room
This room should be large enough to allow two primates to be sedated and worked on at the same time, and be sufficiently spacious around the operating tables for four to six people in the room. It should be easy to clean with plenty of work benches and storage and good ventilation and lighting (natural and artificial).
The laboratory should be a clean work place that has sinks and bench space for conducting procedures, and sufficient work space for equipment.
(c) Office/records room
A workspace should have space for one or two people to sit, with access to electricity and storage space for files/records.
(d) Other items to consider
The veterinary facilities should have lockable cabinets for dangerous drugs, a refrigerator for preserving specimens, and an area for conducting post-mortem exams. (A concrete slab with adequate drainage and access to water is acceptable as long as fly control of the site can be maintained.)