Oct 21, 2013

After a long hiatus, it's back to blogging about owl monkeys. I google searched my name the other day for grant app purposes and I found this...and it reminded me of all the reasons I am so passionate about what I do. All the first accounts of the questions I had in relation to these pairs and their differences are on here.

I went into the woods Sunday morning. This comes after a long hiatus of 2 months due to grad school at FAU. However, the pairs have been doing great!

Austin and Wookie had their second infant during the Spring, and we saw really cool behaviors over the summer of the juvenile attempting to carry the infant. In true owl monkey fashion though, the male did carry most of the time. This enclosure also did a whole lot of foraging, and some social anointing! The juvenile was socially anointing with the the adult female without having touched the millipede. Scent possibly? However, he writhed next to her and on her with what seemed like only the incentive of smell. Very remarkable.

Actually, we saw A LOT of social and self anointing this summer. There was also an abundance of millipedes. Which comes back to the point that it seems the more they do it (anoint)...the more they want to do it.

Back to the pairs though, my last pairing of the summer was by far the most difficult and rewarding pairing I had in the two years of monitoring the program. It was Mochika and Vincent. We initially tried to pair them before I left to Duke for a month (unsuccessfully at that). Mochika, as is common to her, was very frightful of the sounds and thus quite spastic. Vincent responded in an active "pursuant" manner, and well...it backfired. Mochika ended up on the floor of her enclosure. Sian and I decided it was best to separate them. However, we decided we would try again. A while before I came back from Duke, Mochika went into Vincent's enclosure and Vincent went into Mochika's enclosure. We did pair them again, and it was exhausting - but alas successful. Mochika responded in the same manner as the first attempt to pair her, however, Vincent did not. This time Vincent was much more patient with her, and docile. He initiated contact often, but not aggressively. By the end of the night they had mated and groomed. Sunday I got word that Mochika is very much liking Vincent, and following him everywhere. Possibly, there may even be an infant on the way!

Talking about infants, there are 3 new infants in the woods (in addition to Austin and Wookie's)! That's 4 infants for the season, which is fantastic. One of them has a mohawk looking fro (Rhetsina's). Also, there is speculation of 1-3 more pregnancies currently in the woods. Can you imagine 3 more infants? All the cuteness! All the data!

Working on submitting the folia paper on social anointing with minor revisions (almost there), the locomotion project is working out, and the pair bond study is in great hands. I can't wait till December when I get to go back out to the woods again! Owl monkeys always open my eyes to new ways of seeing things, especially reproductive choices and success. To boost, they are so darn cute!

Jun 22, 2012

Research Updates!

After what seems like forever, the culmination of the social anointing project is today. Alumni and soon to be UC-Davis grad student Jay Jefferson will be presenting our findings at the 2012 Conference for the American Society of Primatologists! What started out as a cool and fun project turned into much more than that, and well...that's pretty great. Below is a link to a 3 minute video on social anointing in owl monkeys and a link to the FIU coverage on owl monkey research!

(Above: FIU showcases owl monkey research; 
Below: Owl Monkeys Socially Anointing - ASP2012)

May 22, 2012


We can not always understand everything, and in a way that maybe goes against science I don't think we are meant to. Betsy has proven this to me recently. There is a candle that's lit next to Peanut and Betsy's enclosure - right over his grave - and every night without fail it's like watching a religious experience take place. The match is lit in the dark of the night, it flickers ever so brightly, Betsy walks over lightly, her grey eyes glaze over and she begins to anoint, except there is nothing in her hands. She likes the light, and she's enjoying the last of her time enjoying life. It reminds us, or I should say Betsy reminds me to find joy amidst life's greatest disappointments. 

May 4, 2012

In Loving Memory of Peanut

This past week we said goodbye to a dear friend, Peanut, one of our resident owl monkeys. Peanut has been around as long as I can remember and then some. One of the first enclosures I got accustomed to watching on a regular basis when I started in 2006, was his. Over the years he and Betsy have given birth to many offspring - Crunchy, Creamy, Killer - to name a few. In fact, in the preliminary stages of my current project I used behavioral data from Betsy and Peanut, seeing trends between them to inspire my work. 

Peanut, carrying Crunchy, as many a devoted owl monkey father would do.

In his absence, he has moved many of us to tears but also to recollect many joyful stories and memories we shared with him. With an amazing personality, he lived out his last 18 years here at the Conservancy with Betsy by his side after spending years in a laboratory.

I'll always remember him as a beggar of grapes, an expect urinator for marshmallows, and most importantly a monkey who inspired not only many great studies, but people. He was living proof that in small things, great hope can be found. For two years now, I've had a picture of Peanut that sits on my bookshelf. It's a captivating image, and I am always going to hold it dear to my heart. 

A memorial service was held for Peanut the week after and in the upcoming days an edible garden will be planted in his name. So Peanut may you rest in peace, you will be missed dearly - not only by myself but by everybody at the DuMond Conservancy - past and present. 


~ Above is a video of Betsy, Peanut, and Crunchy grooming late at night. Captured with a Bushnell Trophy Cam in late March 2012, courtesy of a very talented student, Kiara Nydam.~

Apr 2, 2012

An Update from the Owl Monkey Woods..

Excuse me in not keeping up with this blog in a while. It's been an insanely busy month. So I figure while I take a much needed break from studying, I'll insert a synopsis of what's been going on in the owl monkey woods!

Pinegirl & Yanni, before urine collection.

As far as urine collection, the four pairs we've been working with are certainly getting more accustomed to our operant conditioning with marshmallows. More often now I can collect urine from both male and female on the same evening, then like clockwork, they look at me longingly as if to say: "Hey human! Where is my marshmallow?!" At least, that's what I can imagine.

Connie isn't doing as bad as we previously thought. The youth program compiled data on her eating patterns and it seems they havn't changed much since Spruce was originally removed. Which is a relief, we only observe them too well I suppose. (;

Last week there was an event hosted by FIU with Sian talking about monkeys, FIU also had Mireya Mayor come give a talk as part of the QBIC program. Go FIU for getting more involved with the Conservancy, and taking an interest in Primatology!



On a personal note, I took a day during my spring break road trip to go find the Rhesus Macaques that are free ranging along the Silver River in central Florida. Result? Mission accomplished! For seeing wild monkeys for the first time, it was beautiful. It only managed to fuel my passion even more - because they need us, they need me.

Juvenile Rhesus Macaques along the Silver River.
(Photo credit: Christian Rodriguez)