Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

Jessica Mayhew

Third Committee Member

Lori Sheeran


There are over 100 named species of lemurs, of which 94% are considered threatened with extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They live in increasingly fragmented forests. To understand how best to protect them in their natural habitats, we can observe how they manipulate the environment and how they use objects, both natural and humanmade, around them. Understanding their behavior is a critical component of conservation, and observing behavior in a captive setting allows us to study lemur-environment relationships without disrupting what little habitat is left in Madagascar. In this study I investigated whether the object/substrate use of captive ring-tailed and red ruffed lemurs could be catalogued under several different functions at the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA. Activity budget and spatial use data I collected revealed that lemurs at the Woodland Park Zoo did not seem to spend an atypical proportion of their behaviors as inactive compared to their wild counterparts. However, neither species utilized the entirety of their enclosures, and vigilance behaviors occupied a large proportion of their activity budgets. Noise levels at this urban zoo may contribute to vigilance behavior, and mitigation techniques, such as waterfalls, may not be useful if lemurs do not utilize all areas in their enclosures where these mitigation techniques are used. It is imperative to determine whether these mitigation techniques are truly working to reduce noise and encourage lemurs to utilize more of their enclosures so that they are exposed to less external noise from around the zoo.