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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Fostering appropriate behaviour in rehabilitant orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)
Authors: Descovich, Kristin
Galdikas, Birute
Tribe, Andrew
Lisle, Allan
Phillips, Clive
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Keywords: orangutan, rehabilitation, behaviour, welfare, development
Issue Date: Jun-2011
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Descovich K, Galdikas B, Tribe A, Lisle A & Phillips C (2011) Fostering appropriate behaviour in rehabilitant orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), International Journal of Primatology, 32 (3), pp. 616-633.
Abstract: Rehabilitation centres in Indonesia and Malaysia accommodate displaced orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus and P. abelii) and aim to facilitate their release into the wild by developing in them the skills that are necessary for survival. Regular forest excursions are provided but their efficacy in improving learning of appropriate behaviours is unknown. We observed forty rehabilitating orangutans from the Orangutan Care and Quarantine Centre during three forest excursions each to determine whether their behaviour fostered the development of survival skills. In total 38% of their time was spent in locomotion, particularly quadrupedal arboreal travel (13%), walking (8%), climbing (7%) and vine-swinging (4%). 26.5% of their time was spent 5 m or more from the ground, at heights up to 25 m. Arboreal activities were more 2 common early in the excursions and interaction with c are-givers more common later (hour 1: 0.3% of time; hour 5: 0.9% of time). Animals of lower body weight were significantly more likely to engage in arboreal movement, locomotion in general, eating of bark and leaves, and social play, and less likely to eat insects. Those that had been at the Centre the longest were less likely to perform arboreal activities and significantly more likely to be found standing and at ground level, than those that were there for a shorter time. During this study, many forest food items were consumed, particularly leaves and fruit, but also invertebrates and bark. Little time was spent in sexual behaviour, tool use, nest building or socially-mediated learning, but social play occupied almost 6% of their time. We conclude that regular excursions into the forest are likely to assist in the development of locomotion and feeding skills for survival in rehabilitating orangutans, but special attention is needed to encourage nest building, social activities and arboreal activity. Animals least likely to benefit are heavy animals and those that have been captive for a long time.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: This is an electronic version of an article published 1 in Vol 32 (2011) pp 616-633 in the International Journal of Primatology. The published version of this article is available at: Publisher policy allows this work to be made available in this repository; The original publication is available at
Affiliation: Psychology
Simon Fraser University
University of Queensland
University of Queensland
University of Queensland

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