The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Greiving Monkeys Drink Their Own Milk, Imagine How Chimpanzee Mothers Feel When Breeders Take Thier Babes Away!

Female monkeys in Morocco have been observed suckling

themselves, drinking their own milk.

The behaviour, rarely recorded by scientists, may have been

exaggerated by grief, as each monkey did it more often

after the

death of her infant.

By suckling their own milk, the female monkeys may be


stress or boosting their immune systems, scientists


Whatever the cause, the behaviour appears to be

culturally learnt.

Dr Bonaventura Majolo and his PhD student Richard


noticed the unusual behaviour while studying wild


macaques (Macaca sylvanus) living in two troops in

the Atlas

Mountains of Morocco.

The barbary macaque is the only macaque species


outside of Asia.

Together with two field assistants, Dr Majolo and
Mr McFarland
were studying the behaviour of the troops, one dubbed
"Flat face"
and the other "Large" troop.

"We observed self-suckling by chance while we were

with the

monkeys collecting data for other projects," says Dr


who has published details of the observations in the


Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Death in the family

The scientists first saw four females within the

"Flat-face" troop

engage in self-suckling while their infants were

still alive.

While each female was suckling her infant on

one nipple,

she would briefly place her other nipple in her

own mouth,

leaving it there for a second or two. She would

usually then

move her infant onto this second nipple.

The scientists suspect this behaviour helps

stimulate or

improve the flow of milk, helping the infant to


However, soon after, all four females lost their

infants. Three

disappeared while one female macaque, named


was seen carrying her dead infant for six hours

before finally

moving on.

After the deaths of their offspring, the four female

macaques engaged in much longer bouts of

self-suckling, lasting up to two minutes at a time.

Jessica self-suckled for 106 straight days after

her infant's death.

Self-suckling is an extremely unusual behaviour.

Before now, scientists have only published

accounts of self-suckling in chimpanzees

and feral goats.

"But no study has observed this behaviour

with such frequency as in our report, or linked

self-suckling to an infant's death," says Dr Majolo.

The behaviour appears to be cultural, as it only

occurred in the "Flat face" troop. A female macaque

which lost her infant in the "Large" troop at the

same time didn't engage in similar behaviour.

The scientists can only speculate as to the cause.

They suggest that it could be a way for the

females to recoup

the energy they'd invested in producing the

milk in the first place.

Or it could help relieve engorged breasts,

or help boost the

females' immune systems.

Emotional consequences

"The most interesting explanation, in my opinion,

" says Dr Majolo,

views self-suckling as related to the emotional

consequences of the

loss of an infant."

"In humans and other species, breast-feeding

reduces the stress

through the release of prolactin."

"It is therefore possible that the self-suckling

functions to reduce

the stress generated by the loss of the infant."

Dr Majolo now hopes to study the monkey

troops again during

their next mating season.

"It is interesting that we observed self-suckling

in just one troop

and not the other. This may indicate that

self-suckling is a sort of

cultural behaviour."

"We will have to wait to see if self-suckling

is consistently displayed

by females in the same troop and not in the


Female babary macaque and infant (Macaca sylvanus)

Difficult times ahead


No comments:

Post a Comment