We conduct behavioral research with a variety of primate species living at sites in the US, Europe, and Africa. We work with parks, research centers, and sanctuaries to study primates living in naturalistic and often free-ranging conditions. This allows us to understand how primates’ cognitive skills play out in socially and ecologically-rich contexts. We use a variety of methods to assess primates’ cognitive skills, including active choice measures in which animals choose between different options, and looking time measures where we index animals’ interests or expectations by measuring how long they look at different objects or events.
Population: ~1500 rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)
Location: Near Punta Santiago, Puerto Rico
Setting: This population of monkeys was introduced to Cayo Santiago in the 1930s. The Cayo Santiago Field Station is now one section of the Caribbean Primate Research Center. Monkeys free-range through the island’s 38 acres, living in natural multi-male multi-female social groups with minimal human intervention. We approach calmly-sitting monkeys, as groups move about the island, to conduct our studies.
Population: ~140 Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus)
Location: Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Setting: Barbary macaques at Trentham comprise two mixed-sex groups that semi-free-range in a 60 acre forested park. As Barbary macaques are adapted to the cold temperatures of their native climate in the mountains of North Africa, the monkeys can live outside comfortably year-round. We approach calmly-sitting monkeys as they move about the forest in order to conduct our studies.
Population: ~250 lemurs from 20+ species, including Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli), ruffed lemurs (Varecia sp.), ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta),and mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz).
Location: Durham, NC USA
Setting: This is the largest collection of these highly-endangered primates in the world. Lemurs live in species-appropriate social groups, with both indoor and outdoor enclosures. Many individuals free-range in 80 acres of Duke forest during the warmer months.
Population: ~160 wild-born chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
Location: Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo
Environment: Tchimpounga cares for wild-born orphans of the bush-meat and pet trade, and is the largest ape sanctuary in Africa. Chimpanzees live in several mixed-age and -sex groups that free-range in enclosures comprising over 90 acres of primary tropical rain forest during the day. Apes sleep in dormitory buildings at night, so we conduct voluntary psychology tests in these buildings.
Population: ~50 wild-born chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
Location: Near Entebbe, Uganda
Environment: Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary cares for wild-born orphans of the bush-meat and pet trade. During the day, chimpanzees free-range on an island of over 100 acres of primary tropical rain forest locatedin Lake Victoria. We conduct research in the chimpanzees’ sleeping dormitories, which they enter voluntarily at night.
Population: ~65 wild-born bonobos (Pan paniscus)
Location: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Environment: Lola ya Bonobo cares for wild-born orphans of the bush-meat and pet trade, and is the largest bonobo sanctuary in the world. The bonobos live in several mixed-age and -sex groups that free-range in enclosures comprising over 70 acres of primary tropical rain forest during the day. Apes sleep in dormitory buildings at night, so we conduct voluntary psychology tests in these buildings.