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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Animal Welfare Enhancement Awards - 2005 Recipients

Positive Reinforcement Training and its Implications on Physiological and Behavioral Parameters in Squirrel Monkeys
Autumn Sorrells
 University of California, San Francisco

A training protocol will be implemented for basic husbandry behaviors using operant conditioning and positive reinforcement in a squirrel monkey colony at UCSF. This protocol will focus on providing a non-stressful experience for both animal and handler during routine procedures. It is expected that by utilizing operant conditioning techniques for husbandry behaviors, the animals will experience fewer stressors, making them more reliable research models and improving their well-being. Experimental procedures will include target-training squirrel monkeys to approach an object of differentiating shape and color. This object will be placed over an in-cage scale in order to allow the animal to weigh itself without the stress of capture and handling. Squirrel monkeys are typically weighed on a monthly basis at UCSF. Salivary cortisol will be measured to determine the physiological stress response following capture and handling for weighing. Such events will be executed in the same manner as observed in handling and manipulative husbandry procedures performed on a regular basis. Vocalizations and behavioral responses will be recorded and analyzed in conjunction with cortisol values.