Sunday, May 13, 2012
Welcome back to my blog! In this edition, I would like to share a story with all of you, the amazing experience I had during my primatology internship at the Audubon Nature Institute's Zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana during the Spring of 2010. It all began as part of a school assignment, heading to the zoo to practice some behavioral observation techniques. However, I made a few connections, a touch of networking, and followed-up for some potential internship opportunities. After a successful interview, and some back and forth with HR, the primatology department welcomed me as a Spring intern. Before I knew it, my first day was upon me. I can still recall being so nervous and excited; I really did not know what those first days would have in store for me!
|Infant Sumatran Orangutang enjoying her jungle-gym|
|Stella: Black & White Ruffed Lemur, enjoying a palm fran in her renovated exhibit|
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Source: Hi! Monkey.net
Monday, May 7, 2012
Ever wonder what a captive (or even wild primate) does all day? Take a second and try guessing (before scrolling down)? Probably the activities that instantly come to mind are sleeping, eating, and maybe playing. Obviously, there are some significant differences across species as well as some important dependencies based on the size and composition of the group of primate. However, this custom illustration is intended to provide a bit more detail about the "day in the life" of a primate.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
In this blog, I will be focusing the spotlight on one of the most impressive zoos in the country, the San Diego Zoo on Twitter. This incredible zoo, located in Balboa Park, California, is one of the largest in the United States, spanning over 100 acres and featuring more than 4000 animal species. The zoo finds its roots in the efforts of Dr. Harry Wegeforth, the founder in 1916 and visionary for the development of innovative, cage-less exhibits. The zoo features plant and habitat material from tropical Africa, South America, and China (bamboo), a Skyfari gondola, and a giant panda exhibit (one of only four zoos in the country with this species) link. Despite the range of perspectives and opinions on primates in captivity, the zoo features many primates, including a leading-edge orangutan and siamang exhibit of over 8,000 square feet. The primate keepers do some interesting things from an enrichment perspective, including hiding food items in a fake termite mound, reflecting some of what these primates do in the wild. I present this zoo not to dive into an academic or political debate, but to highlight a leading zoo institution in the country, and the ability for all readers to visit the zoo and take part in some of what it has to offer. Please see below for more reading, including some of the on-going conversation outreach programs by the zoo society.
Please click the link to view the Live Ape Camera! Its a must!
Throughout this blog, I have engaged with topics related to the current state of primates from a variety of perspectives. In this post, I will be addressing the important problem of primate poaching, which has been increasingly visible, from exotic animal trade to hunting practices. For example, can you imagine that between 1995-2002, over 99,000 primates were legally imported into the United States as pets or research animals(Save the Primates)? These animals were plucked from their natural habitat and flown half-way around the world for our purposes. Can we then imagine how much poaching (or illegal "taking/capturing") must be occurring across the world? So, let us explore some of the reasons behind why primates, our closest ancestor, may be poached.
|Conservation rangers and local people are shown in 2007 evacuating the bodies of four mountain gorillas killed in Virunga national park, eastern Congo. Photograph: Brent Stirton/Getty The.Guardian.co.uk|
If you would like to donate to Save The Primates please click HERE
The evolution of anthropological and scientific knowledge and understanding relies on drawing meaningful conclusions from investigational studies. These studies are constructed from a variety of study designs, techniques/methods, and analysis depending on the research question at hand. One such widely used study in animal behavior (ethology) is known as the participant observational study (Research Methods, Participant Observation). In this blog, I will provide some thoughts on how to design, execute, and analyze a participant observational study for primates, so that readers form some new and different perspectives on the importance of primate behavior research and those committed to pursuing it.
|Jane Goodall (Observation of Chimpanzees)|
Like most studies, the investigation begins at a central research question. This research question can be simple or complex, depending on the objectives, species, environment, complicating factors or variables, etc. One example of a research question could be: "does crowd noise at the Bronx Zoo exhibit impact grooming behavior for siamangs (symphalangus syndactylus)?" Once you arrive at the central research question, the next step is to propose a hypothesis. The hypothesis step is critical because it sets the scope (or boundaries) for your observational study. In this case, the hypothesis could be that "significant crowd noise (generated by weekend attendance) reduces grooming activities by 25% in the captive siamangs" because the noise is disruptive.
With our research question and hypothesis formed (and hopefully articulated based on some prior knowledge and analogous research), we can design the study. The study design includes the remaining Ws: what will you observe, when will you observe it, where will you observe it, and finally, how will the observation be performed. For our continuing example, we can design a study to involve weekend observations (study group) and weekday observations (control group), with a sampling of 20 visits each for 1hr at the same exhibit at morning and afternoon sessions. At this point, we would also determine exactly what would be measured to evaluate grooming (total time grooming? total number of partners? etc) and other data points to collect (time, temperature, zoo visitors, etc). The next step is to actually execute the study according to your design. If a team is performing the participant observations, make sure that they are trained together and execute the same techniques from the same perspectives. Studies must be completed consistently and rigorously to ensure that the data is meaningful. The last step of this process is typically the analysis of the data and the determination of whether it supports the hypothesis. The data must be integrated, segmented, and analyzed according to the study design, with statistics providing the significant relationships between the variables (ex: crowd attendance vs. total grooming time in the study and control set of data). At this point, with some solid analysis, you may be able to begin to draw conclusions from the study and potentially report out the learnings to colleagues and/or a scientific journal. Most studies can also help to craft the next study, as the investigations become more and more focused.