Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

Mary Radeke

Third Committee Member

Kathy Strickland


The main caregiver of an infant Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) is their mother. However, mothers often allow infant-handling interactions with other individuals in their group. While there are many hypotheses to explain the infant-handling phenomenon, there are few systematic investigations of how mothers respond to non-mother infant-handling interactions. At Alpha Genesis Inc., I conducted 33 focal follows for each mother-infant dyad (N = 10) over an eight-week period on captive macaques to determine if infant behaviors during infant-handling interactions resulted in mothers interrupting the interaction; if mothers were more likely to interrupt infant-handling interactions when infants showed signs of distress; and if such interruptions varied in their frequency between primiparous and multiparous mothers. Analyses revealed that, in the absence of infant stress behaviors, primiparous mothers are more likely than multiparous mothers to interrupt interactions by displaying maternal restraint of the infant or maternal aggression to the non-mother whereas multiparous mothers were more likely to reject such interactions before they began. These findings indicate that a mother’s parenting experience may affect the social interactions of their offspring; while also suggesting that infant handling interactions may have little to do with mother-infant bonding and more to do with factors like hierarchy, relationships, and their environment.

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