Published: 01 March 2007
Primate experts monkey around
Some of the world's leading primate experts will meet at UQ from March 9-11 for the 25th annual conference of the Australasian Primate Society.
Renowned international zoo designer Jon Coe, is one of the keynote speakers with the topic: Why not let the monkeys manage the monkey house?
Mr Coe has spent the last 40 years designing more than 150 sanctuaries, national parks, botanical gardens and animal enclosures from Ghana to the United States.
He said he believed the next frontier in primate facilities was giving animals more choice, independence and creativity through individualized care.
Microchipped animals would be able to access certain areas of an enclosure such as sleeping perches or trigger personalized services such as fans or heaters.
“The organism with the most choices has the most freedom,” Mr Coe said.
“I also believe this will lead to more confident, self-assured and motivated animals, which will not only reduce stress and improve animal well-being, but will create more active, interesting and informative displays.
“Once you give animals choices then they will end up doing things with that equipment that you never dreamed they could.”
He said he saw this first hand in an American zoo where they installed an infra-red shower that the elephants could turn on and off with their trunks.
In one night the elephants triggered the shower 45 times not to get clean, but to soak their hay in so it was easier to digest.
Conference organiser PhD student Julia Hoy, from UQ's School of Animal Studies, said it was the first time the conference would be held in Queensland.
Other conference topics included animal health to self-recognition, diet, behaviour and reasoning.
UQ psychology researchers such as Professor Thomas Suddendorf, Dr Emma Collier-Baker, Dr Mark Nielsen and PhD student Andrew Hill will speak.
UQ School of Animal Studies students Amanda Fernie, Kris Descovich and Julia Hoy are also presenting along with Sunny Sanderson from UQ's School of Integrative Biology.
Mr Coe's free public lecture will be held on Friday, March 9 from 6.30pm-7.30pm in the Lecture Theatre S304, Social Sciences Building (no. 24) at UQ St Lucia.
For more conference information visit: http://www.primates.on.net/apsconf.htm
Media: Miss Hoy (0438 939 915, 07 5460 1541, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Miguel Holland at UQ Communications (3365 2619)
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