KEEPERS SET MONKEY PUZZLES FOR PERCEPTIVE PRIMATES
A colony of New World monkeys at Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium have been impressing keepers with their powers of deduction.
Using a variation of the popular cup-and-ball game where magicians using sleight of hand to try and trick the onlooker, staff at the Tyneside attraction came up with their own version which involves hiding a tasty treat in one of our hands then swapping hands around rapidly.
The tiny primates, a mixture of marmosets and tamarins, then have to closely follow the movement of the keeper’s hands and then correctly guess which hand it is in.
Keeper Joey Ioanna said: “Everyone here knows how quick-witted and mischievous our monkeys are and we wanted to come up with a way of testing their intelligence in a fun and interactive way.
“I’d been studying their amazing ability to focus on the movement of prey items – like little insects – before they pounce and grab them.
“They often show this behaviour while stalking the locusts we hide around their enclosure. So we decided to give them a greater challenge by trying them with an activity that would test most people, never mind monkeys.
“Each of the monkeys is able to track our hand movement and then choose the hand with the treat in. They are so good at this we wouldn’t dare bet money on them getting it wrong!” he added.
As well as helping to demonstrate the monkeys quick wits and keen eye, the tests also help to reinforce the bonds between them and their keepers and provides a valuable form of enrichment.
The aquarium’s Amazing Amazon is home to a colony of rescued monkeys including common and pygmy marmosets and cotton top tamarins.
A number of the monkeys have been rescued after being found living in unsuitable conditions while others have been made homeless after their owners could no longer look after them.
Issued by Blue Reef. For more information please contact Anna Pellegrino on 0191 258 1031.