Wildlife: dangerous, or beneficial for monkeys?

17 Oct 2019 | Back to News, Publications and Annual Reports



BPRC is located in a wooded area surrounded by meadows. It is therefore an attractive environment for many wild animals such as hares, rabbits, rats, crows, foxes, pheasants, geese and other migratory birds, mice, oystercatchers, woodpeckers, storks and even stone martens. Most of these animals cannot be blocked by a fence. Unsurprisingly, this means that we regularly see guests walking or flying around our terrain.

The monkeys at BPRC live in social groups, just like monkeys in the wild. Because of this natural way of life, they can engage in the kind of behaviour that comes naturally to their species. This prevents stress. These groups of monkeys live in large enclosures, where they can choose whether they want to be inside or outside. Being outside increases their well-being, but also entails certain risks.

The risks

All animals are potentially carrying pathogens. Particularly rodents and birds are known to spread pathogens. Birds fly over the outside cages, and other animals roam around nearby. As a result, there is a chance that the guests on our site transfer bacteria, parasites or viruses to our monkeys.

The benefits win

Fortunately, our monkeys almost never get sick from this. Young monkeys start going outside right from birth, hanging safely from their mum. Soon after, they start exploring their surroundings. As from day one, they are exposed to everything that floats in the air. This is very good for their immune system. If this system is properly conditioned from a young age, monkeys can benefit as an adult: they will be much stronger, and less likely to fall ill. This is also very important for research, especially considering that much research is focused on the functioning of the immune system. Besides that, being outside is a huge enrichment for our monkeys. They have plenty of room to climb, swing and splash around in the swimming pool.

And should there be a rare case where a monkey is exhibiting abnormal behaviour or symptoms, our animal care workers and vets will always notice this quickly, and keep an eye on the monkey. It is usually a matter of recovery, letting the immune system do its job. Just like people, in fact.