Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2024

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Dr. Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

Dr. Lori Sheeran

Third Committee Member

Dr. April Binder


Visitors are a nearly continual aspect of the zoo environment and may have different impacts on zoo animals’ behaviors. Little primate research focuses on visitors influencing the behavior of arboreal primates housed in zoos. I examined whether number, noise, and activity level of zoo visitors impacted the height location and behaviors of zoo-housed Eastern black-and-white colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza). I collected 224 10-minute observational samples at the Fort Worth Zoo, Texas, from four adult monkeys, one male and three females. I recorded height location and frequency of three behavior categories (i.e., positive engagement, neutral, and stress-vigilance behaviors). Results revealed that, despite individual variation, overall, the monkeys primarily used the high canopy for resting and the lower half of the enclosure for locomoting and feeding. Visitor variables were not associated with height location in the adult females; for the adult male, there was a positive correlation between visitor number and the number of scans he spent in the low canopy. Increased visitor number and noise were each significantly correlated with decreased resting behavior in three of the individuals. The current findings support the prediction that the frequency of behaviors of colobus monkeys differs based on enclosure height location. The prediction that there would be an association between colobus monkey height and visitor number was supported only for the adult male. This work demonstrates the importance of verticality in enclosures for arboreal primates and underscores the behavioral impact that zoo visitors can have on Eastern black-and-white colobus monkeys.

Available for download on Saturday, June 02, 2029