Friday, August 7, 2015

Primate Update E-newsletter 7-15

Over the past 11 years, Pacific Primate Sanctuary has hosted and trained over 35 Resident Interns.  The PPS Internship is a unique immersion program, facilitating learning about New World primates and animal sanctuary management on an intimate, in depth, all encompassing level.  The Internship program has deepened and expanded over time, with advanced training modules added regularly. During 2014-2015 we developed a Behavioral Conditioning Program, expanded our Emergency Care training to include full physical exams and the utilization of medical SOAP notes for keeping records, and have broadened Primate Behavior and Communication training. The PPS immersion Internship has become a coveted residency for students and professionals, worldwide.
The Sanctuary’s resident training program is mutually beneficial, since the Interns learn to provide a high level of animal husbandry and compassionate care to the 50 monkeys.  PPS could not afford to pay for the service, skills, and expertise that PPS Interns dedicate to the animals,
On the recommendation of PPS Advisory Board members, we recently created an Assistant Manager position, which can be awarded to select Interns who have completed their Internship, and demonstrate the ability and desire to acquire Sanctuary management skills. PPS Assistant Managers will learn about Sanctuary administration and procedures, and will assist the PPS Operations Manager and Director in the selection of new Interns and Volunteers, providing staff supervision documenting new protocol, helping with fundraising, outreach, and the many other tasks necessary to keep the Sanctuary functioning and advancing.
We are currently building a new Yurt, to accommodate our first assistant manager, PPS Resident Intern, Amanda. PPS is so grateful to Joani, long time PPS supporter and partner, for funding this vital project. Words cannot fully express our appreciation for her partnership, which has made the advances and growth of our organization possible.  Thank you to Steven for tirelessly working on the Yurt construction and to PPS volunteer Dayton, for his help.Thank you also to Mark and Dan at Pacific Source in Washington, for donating the Yurt shipping and delivery charges.  

The Sanctuary could not operate without the Interns, and a resident Assistant Manager will be of great benefit to PPS as well. We are truly fortunate to have received Joani’s funding for additional housing. However, paying for the resident staffs’ utilities, and providing goods and supplies has been a major drain on our limited resources. We need additional funds to ensure that the PPS Residency Program can continue. With your support, we will be able to provide this comprehensive training program and extensive experience to these dedicated students who will graduate with a profound understanding of the care, conservation, and rehabilitation of threatened and endangered animals.


The Hawaiian ancestors adhered to a set of values that guided their daily lives. These beliefs and principles have been passed on, through the generations, and are still an important part of traditional Hawaiian society today.  In the ongoing issues of Primate Update, we explore how the Sanctuary embodies traditional Hawaiian perspectives and practices.

The value of work: To work with intent and with purpose“Hana is the word for work. Ho‘o is a prefix that brings active causation and transition to the base words that follow: it will turn nouns into people-powered verbs — we make them happen. Therefore, the word Ho‘ohana defines a value in which you work with resolve, focus and determination. You are choosing to work with purpose, and with self-defining intentions.”
Ho‘ohana is the value of worthwhile work. When you ho‘ohana, you are working with passion and purpose. Ho‘ohana is bringing intention and full presence to whatever you do.  Ho‘ohana work is something you love doing, it may involve working in celebration of your natural strengths, talents, and gifts, working to make a difference, working to serve others or working for a cause you deeply care about.
At Pacific Primate Sanctuary, Ho’ohana is always apparent and evident. Every task that we do is done with the intention of serving the animals in our care.  Whether we are cutting up produce, hosing enclosure floors, pruning outdoor enclosures or washing dishes, we are filled with a purpose:  to provide the best possible care to the monkeys.  PPS team members are filled with purpose and care deeply for each individual primate.   Ho’ohana creates an environment of peace, healing and Aloha for the monkeys. 

How to Contribute Directly
We deeply appreciate your continued partnership. Please make tax-deductible donations to the Sanctuary on our Website: and on FaceBook, using PayPal, or by sending a check to:  
Pacific Primate Sanctuary
500-A Haloa Road
 Haiku, HI 96708

“Malama ‘Ola the Monkeys” and help us provide food, medicine and supplies for the 50 monkeys at Pacific Primate Sanctuary and contribute to the care of the Beings with whom we share the Earth.

Donating to Pacific Primate Sanctuary can be as simple as doing an Internet search!  Visit and designate Pacific Primate Sanctuary as your charity of choice, and get started using this philanthropic program.  Each time you do a search using GoodSearch, a small contribution will be made to PPS!  Larger donations are made to PPS when you order from one of the many participating online stores, using GoodShop.
Use to find great deals on back to school shopping!  After designating Pacific Primate Sanctuary as your nonprofit of choice, you can shop at more than 900 top online retailers and a significant percentage of your purchases will automatically be donated to the Sanctuary at no cost to you! For example: if you shop on eBay using, 25-35% of eBay revenue will be donated to PPS! GoodShop also provides many valuable coupons to use towards your purchases. When you select a store, you will automatically be redirected to a coupon page for that store.

PPS invites local volunteers to join us in our life-saving work. We need: Animal Caregivers, Maintenance/Handy people, Gardeners, Landscapers, Fundraisers, a Seamstress, etc.

Retirees are welcome!  If you live on Maui and are interested in becoming a member of the Pacific Primate Sanctuary Community, by volunteering your time and skills, please contact us:

Special Topic: Intern Mady
Spider Monkeys: Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution of the Genus Ateles
Morphology and Evolution of the Spider Monkey, Genus Ateles
Alfred L. Rosenberger, Lauren Halenar, Siobhan B. Cooke and Walter C. Hartwig
South America is home to four genres of Ateline – howler monkeys (Alouatta), woolly monkeys (Lagothrix), muriquis (Brachyteles), and spider monkeys (Ateles).  Pacific Primate Sanctuary provides refuge to two spider monkeys in the Ateles family, who were rescued from a local tourist attraction. Ateles literally means “imperfect”; this name is based on their unique body structure, which was considered imperfect, but is actually extremely well adapted to the primates’ ecology. They are built as a bit of a hybrid. Spider monkeys have long arms and a short trunk that is closer in comparison to gibbons, but skulls and teeth like the howler monkeys and woolly monkeys. Spider monkeys live a high-energy lifestyle while surviving mainly on soft, ripe fruit that is widely dispersed throughout the upper treetops. Their efficient brachiation: the way they move through the treetops, swinging from branches, allows them to move swiftly through their forested environment. Muriquis, for example, are not able to keep up with such an active lifestyle because they do not have the longer forelimbs and mobility that spider monkeys possess. Spider monkeys also have forelimbs that are 150% the length of their trunk – giving them the longest arm-span out of the four Atelines in South America.
Another reason spider monkeys are classified as  “imperfect” is their lack of thumbs. Their hands are curved like hooks, and without a thumb to get in their way, they can move from branch to branch with ease, making them some of the most skillful brachiators in the jungle. The spider monkeys at PPS, Carlos and Montana, use their curved hands when they are swinging or when they are feeding. They readily scoop up their fresh fruits and veggies straight into their mouths and swing away with ease. The two brothers often rely on their tails to suspend themselves from their branches and ropes to reach lower branches, helping them move quickly through their large enclosure. Knowing spider monkey locomotion and their diet in the wild contributes to their caregivers’ ability to provide the environment and nutrition which best serve their needs.  We give Carlos and Montana fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein along with their biscuits to make sure they not only have a nutritional diet, but also food items which are similar to those found in their natural diet!  Carlos and Montana very clearly prefer the ripe fruit they receive every day above anything else offered to them – just like they would enjoy in the wild. The boys will often rush to their bowls and look through the vegetables to get to the delicious, ripe fruit with their claw-shaped hands. Their 40’ long enclosure, built for them at PPS, is designed so they can express species appropriate locomotion- their natural movement— brachiating
from branch to branch, for the first time in their lives.

Special Topic: Intern Jordan
The Complete Capuchin: The Biology of the Genus Cebus
Community ecology: How do capuchins interact with their local communities and influence their environments?
Capuchins play many roles in their environments. They are predators, prey, agents of dispersal for plants, crop raiders, ecosystem “engineers”, and hosts for parasites, among other things. It is very important to understand the many roles Capuchins can play, in order to provide them with the best possible care at the Sanctuary.
Capuchins, especially their young, are prey for the large carnivores including jaguars, pumas, coyotes, tayras (Eira barbara, of the weasel family), venomous and constricting snakes, caimans and crocodiles. Scientists believe that the risk of being killed by one of these large predators is such a significant factor in the life of a primate that enhanced predator detection and defense has frequently been proposed as a primary benefit of group living. Not many captures of capuchins by predators have been documented, but even if captures are rare, losing one member of a group can play an major role in the demographic of the population. Capuchins have developed many ways to evade predation attempts. One strategy works especially well for the “sit and wait” predators, like snakes. They try to pre-empt attacks using early detection and alarm calling, and then frequently mob their predator. The mobbing of a predator is normally led by an adult male who repeatedly and loudly makes threats and alarm calls, while breaking large branches and dropping them on the predator. To capuchins, humans can also be seen as a threat. Numerous times in the wild, field researchers have been bombarded with branches from above by capuchins. As caregivers, our goal is to ensure we are not seen as a threat to the animals but rather that our presence promotes a beneficial sense of safety. We always enter the area near Miracle and Prospero’s enclosure quietly, with caution, moving slowly and keeping our heads down in a submissive posture, to avoid causing any distress.  This behavior keeps the animals at ease, and creates a positive relationship.
Capuchins, like all mammals, are hosts to parasites, some that are neutral and others that are harmful. They can be infected with blood parasites, ectoparasites such as hot flies, mites, ticks and lice, and endoparasites such as tapeworms and roundworms. In Costa Rica fecal samples of Cebus capucinus (the species of Capuchins housed at PPS), spider monkeys and howlers were analyzed. C. capucinus had the highest percentage of parasitized feces. It is hypothesized that the higher parasitic loads of the capuchins is due to drinking from water holes, foraging on the ground and trees, and eating a wider variety of food than the howlers and spider monkeys. More research needs to be conducted to better understand the relationship between capuchins and their parasites.   At PPS, we know that keeping a sanitary environment is the best way to prevent any parasitic infections. We disinfect daily, and remove any items that may attract parasitic hosts (such as rodents or slugs) to decrease the likelihood of the animals coming into contact with any parasites. All the primates at PPS are also regularly provided with preventative dewormers.  By understanding the roles Capuchins play in their natural environment, we are able to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the monkeys in our care.
Special Topic:  Intern Katie
Don’t Shoot the Dog: The new art of teaching and training
Chapter Three: Stimulus Control: Cooperation Without Coercion
For behavioral conditioning purposes, anything which prompts a behavioral response is considered a stimulus. For example, primate behaviors such as alarm calling in response to a loud noise or blinking at a bright light are called unconditioned primary stimuli. Stimuli can also be learned by association with a reinforced behavior. For example, an individual hears the sound of a feed door opening and comes over expecting food or a treat, because the sound is associated with food.  Those types of stimuli are referred to as “cues” or signals.
In operant conditioning, once the desired behavior is established, a “cue” is introduced in order to shape the behavior. This brings the behavior under stimulus control. The stimulus becomes another positive reinforcer, a sort of green light, so the individual knows that executing a specific behavior will result in a reward.
Following operant conditioning, a dog is taught to sit using a clicker, then the cue of the spoken word, “sit” is introduced. Stimulus controlled behavior is useful in one common occurrence of training: anticipation.  Once an individual knows a specific behavior, they become so eager that they act before a cue has been given. We often see this with Miracle and Prospero, who have been trained to present their hands to caregivers for inspection in the event of injury. Because of this conditioning, when caregivers walk past their enclosures Miracle and Prospero will often reach their hands through their enclosure, presenting their hands, and hoping for a treat for their behavior.
Stimulus controlled behavior is essentially communication. Each individual knows what to expect and acts accordingly. Stimulus is ideal as a reinforcer because it allows us to communicate with the individual and shape the behaviors that are beneficial to the animal, in the least intrusive way possible.

“We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals.  Animals suffer as much as we do.  True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them.  It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it.  Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”  
                      ~Albert Schweitzer
We hope you have enjoyed this issue of Pacific Primate Sanctuary’s E-Newsletter. Thank you for your support of our life saving work. Because of compassionate people, the Sanctuary can continue to provide a place of peace and happiness for 50 primates saved from research laboratories, animal dealers, and tourist attractions. Here they can heal, form social groups, and live free from exploitation.

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