Jan 31, 2012

It's a Festival!

The Amazon Festival is on Saturday! Last year was a lot of fun, with the Brazilian dancers and all that jazz. This year, both Angela Maldonado and Mireya Mayor are set to speak. 

Urine collection is becoming easier, I'm finding a rotation of three pairs per week works wonders. What's even better? People WANT to collect urine and possibly be peed on. I couldn't do what I want without everyone at the Conservancy working as a team, and we do, and for that I am beyond blessed. 

Also, since we can't publish this I may as well include it here. This map is the coolest map ever. If only there was a way we could adequately test what the pattern may suggest. 

Jan 13, 2012

It's Dog-gone luck!

I have evening urine samples for the next pairing! Here I thought I would continue to be unlucky, but I thank Monkey.

I found this beautiful german shepherd on the way to the conservancy last night. She was running amuk and almost got run over by a car twice. Yet she was so sweet and so full of life. I couldn't bear the thought that something so full of life, with so much love to give would just be obliterated from the world. So, I took her to monkey jungle with me! :) Needless to say, everyone loved having her there and she loved being there. I named her Monkey - she responded to it, and I figured it was fitting. I ended up reuniting her with her owner. It was this little old lady who was very happy I had returned her, and Monkey well...she ended up bringing me luck.

Urine sample from exactly who I needed urine from.

Jan 12, 2012

Hello Sex, Goodbye Bugs

I missed posting on Tuesday, I blame the start of another busy semester. In all actuality, Tuesday was quite exciting. It was a full moon out, and it's 'that time of year' so owl monkeys were mating. I saw Restina and Ferry mate 3x, and I saw Yanni & Pinegirl attempt. It was all very exciting. It means that hopefully some infants should be born this year. Yanni does this thing where he constantly scratches his left arm with his right hand. Such odd behavior.

I actually went in that night to clean out the freezer. Yes, quite glorious. I had to make space for urine samples so I had to get rid of these cell culture plates. I'm not going to lie, just that alone made the day cool. Leaf bugs, and a butterfly. All frozen, and perfect.

I've been quite un-successful in collecting urine samples in the evening. Let's see if I can change that tonight. 

Jan 5, 2012

Clicker Training?

The elusive clicker. I used it to teach my dogs numerous commands - sit, down, stay, roll over. The idea is that once you get desired X result, you click, then treat. It helps add additional positive reinforcement. I was handed one today, and I was actually quite excited but ended up not using it because I had an unsuccessful evening in terms of urine collection. I'll make sure I update on how it goes.

I went in today to organize all the urine samples we've collected from August to present time. There will be a more efficient system in place once Spring semester starts on Monday, a more orderly one at that too. It's a good and easy way for me to be accountable for each day of urine collection, and to try to match my behavioral observations to the dates samples are collected.

I wonder what they think many times. I went to sit in the enclosure with Yanni & Pinegirl today and they were looking at me like I was an alien species. Sure we feed them, but why on earth was I sitting on their floor? They are so curious they tried to make sense of it, which I understand and respect. If only there was owl monkey talk for "May you please urinate for me?" They kept inching up towards me, analyzing me, and then bouncing away. Literally "bouncing" since some of the enclosure bars have a spring to them if they walk on them to fast.

Life is like a night in the owl monkey woods, you never know what you're going to get.

Jan 3, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

Tonight I saw one of the most astounding behaviors. I have been watching owl monkeys on and off for five years on various projects. Tonight, on the fifth year, on the first day that the temperature has dipped into the low 40's this year I observed cold owl monkeys and then IT happened. Austin is part of one of our newer pairs, with Wookie as a mate - he came from Texas - hence the name. Tonight, they were huddled together for warmth and Austin was sitting on his wooden open box and he brought his hands together and rubbed them in a circular motion around each other and brought them up to his mouth just like people do to warm their hands!! It's audacious because no one has ever seen on documented this behavior before in an owl monkey...or maybe in New World primates period. It was amazing, but of course I can't blame him - it was freezing!

Wookie (left), Austin (right). In October.

I went out tonight for the mere fact that it was cold, and I wanted to see the change in behavior and hormone levels on such a night. I was expecting to see correlations, but that blew my mind. By the way, collecting owl monkey urine is one of the hardest things I've had to do. They are the only anthropoid that soils their nest box - so they urinate throughout the day (even though they are nocturnal)! Alas though, with the help of marshmallows we are trying to employ a reward system for urination. Oh the lengths you go to in research. However, this has to be by far one of the most rewarding and enjoyable projects I've had the pleasure to be a part of.