ENRICHMENT MONKEYS AND MIRRORS

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BY:  Camille Dorian

In the looking glass a monkey sees the most fascinating face--his or her own.

Mirrors which can be offered to monkeys come in many sizes and shapes.  Anyone who has a maturing youngster understands that these mirrors need to be unbreakable if they are within reach of little hands.  As a single monkey, male vervet Rollie, (Cercopithecus aethiops), has a large three by five foot glass wall mirror outside his cage (it is kept well outside of Rollie's reach).

Most monkeys find the mirror to be an entertaining toy.   Smaller, hand-held mirrors can be purchased at a children's toy store and primates all the way from two pound squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) to 80 pound chimpanzees (Pan trogiodytes) seem to enjoy "that other face in the mirror".  It is believed that monkeys think of their reflections as another monkey and that chimpanzees can come to understand that the image is their own reflection.

Corky, a Mona quenon (Cercopithecus mona), kept reaching behind the hand held mirror in attempt to quickly grab the illusive "other monkey".   Sara, white-faced capuchin (Cebus capucinus), became so engrossed in her reflection in a 10 x 12 inch hanging children's mirror, that she began to rub her nose on the mirror's surface.  The mirror had to placed outside the cage, since Sara was wearing the skin off her nose.  Another option with a mirror is to offer it only on occasion, as a special toy.  This may also stretch out your monkey's interest...

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