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Group Formation and Behavioural Changes with Release to Free-Ranging in Red Ruffed Lemurs, Varecia Variegata Rubra

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The social behaviour, ranging, and stereotypic behaviours of four red ruffed lemurs (one female, three males) was observed during group formation and release into a 2.25ha natural habitat enclosure at the Duke University Primate Center (DUPC). The female was immediately dominant to all males and there was no female-male affiliation during the initial stages of group formation. The group became identifiable as a unit after release to free-ranging when affiliation and group vocalizations began. Affiliation and vocalizations continued during subsequent recagings. Male dominance rank reflected relative age, but was subject to reversals. The stresses involved in release and group formation, however, can temporarily produce new aberrant behaviours which are soon replaced by normal behaviours. Once released into the large enclosure, stereotypic behaviours became infrequent but did not disappear. Other novel behaviours such as catatonic huddle and all male huddles were observed during release. Natural habitat enclosures can be important tools in the psychological well-being of captive primates.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1993-08-01

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