Sunday, February 19, 2012

"These Are a Few of My Favorite...Primates!"

I developed a deep interest in caring for animals from an early age. I began working at a local, small animal hospital when I was only fifteen years old. After a few years of work experience and some maturation, my love for animals had been reinforced, regardless of any financial limitations associated with the profession. After exposure to animal biology in high school and select extracurricular activities, I decided to pursue a career in animal sciences. 
However, my focus on primates and the field of Primatology blossomed while I was studying at Tulane University. My experiences from the classroom, a zoo internship, and animal behavior research prompted the following list of my favorite primate species. These primates come from across the globe and showcase incredible diversity and beauty:

1.) Siamangs - Symphalangus syndactylus - If you did not get enough heartfelt love on Valentines Day, please look into a relationship with a Siamang! Siamangs are a monogamous species (one partner for life) that spend days perfecting love duets that they sing in harmony together, often heard from over 30 miles away!

2.) Golden Lion Tamarin - Leontopithecus rosalia - An exquisite, endangered species from a very small concentrated area in Africa. What I find most interesting about these little guys is that females most always conceive twins! GLTs can appear to move like squirrels based on the design of the claws and use of four legs to propel along branches.

3.) Lemurs – suborder strepsirrhine – Lemurs are one of the most primitive primate species, endemic to the African island of Madagascar. They typically live in smaller groups, and social interactions are an important factor (from solitary to social). While in New Orleans, I lead an experiment to redesign a lemur exhibit for Stella, a very old lemur (considered almost the oldest known living lemur at 32 years old). Unfortunately, she did not have any other lemurs to interact with, but I did enjoy observing and participating in some of her social grooming behaviors.

Stella and I sharing a grooming moment 

4.) Black and White Colobus - Colobus satanas - I worked with a few Colobus monkeys during my internship at the Audubon Institute in New Orleans. The species typically can only be found along the western coast of Sub-Saharan Africa. 

These monkeys are very expressive and had such different personalities. However, they apparently share their messy eating habits, which I later learned was actually a very important contribution to the environment. These horrible table manners, that can sometimes resemble a huge food fight, were a key factor in seed dispersal in the wild.

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