Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Lipton

Third Committee Member

John B. Mulcahy


Compassion fatigue, an occupational risk commonly associated with caregiving professions, can have adverse effects for individual employee wellbeing, organizational productivity, and the quality of care that patients receive. Within animal-care worker samples, previous research suggests that around 25 percent of employees are at a high risk of developing compassion fatigue (i.e., experiencing burnout and secondary traumatic stress concurrently). To my knowledge, this thesis is the first study to explore compassion fatigue within the primate sanctuary field. Thirty-nine eligible participants completed an online survey that probed professional quality of life via the ProQOL 5, perceived workplace support via the Trauma-Informed Organizational Culture (TIOC) survey, observation frequency of different primate behaviors, demographic and work characteristics, and the most challenging and rewarding components of providing care to captive primates. Findings suggest that this sample had significantly higher rates of compassion satisfaction and lower risk of developing compassion fatigue compared to other animal-care worker samples. Correlational and multiple regression analyses revealed that continent of residence, perceived workplace support, gender, and career length were all important predictors for burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion satisfaction within this sample. Free-response answers further indicated that there are a wide variety of challenges and rewards within this field which may impact burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion satisfaction.