Behavioral responses of unrelated rhesus monkey females paired for the purpose of environmental enrichment



An attempt was made to socialize unrelated and unfamiliar adult rhesus monkey females that had lived in single cages for more than one year. Partners first were given the opportunity for noncontact familiarization in partitioned double cages. They were then transferred into an ordinary double cage. Clear-cut rank relationships were evident within the first 90 minutes of pair formation in 94% (17/18) of dyads tested. Only 28% (5/18) of pairs resorted to fighting (in no case with infliction of serious injury), while 50% (9/18) engaged in social grooming or hugging during this initial phase of pair formation. Eighty-three percent (15/18) of pairs were compatible, with none of the partners showing signs of depression and none inflicting serious injury on the other. Seventeen percent (3/18) of pairs were incompatible (two cases of depression, one serious tail injury) and were separated. It was concluded that the barren environment of singly caged rhesus monkey females can be enriched with little risk by carefully making them compatible companions.