Captive Care Grants

The CCWP administers the PSGB Captive Care Grants. These are awards, typically not exceeding £1000, to assist research of benefit to primate welfare in captivity, and to assist education projects about captive primate welfare. Although the financial value of the grants is quite small, it should be remembered that approval from the PSGB is invaluable when applying for money from other sources.


Applying for funds

All PSGB members are eligible to apply for CCWP grants. Follow the 'Captive Care Submissions' link on the left for guidance notes and application form.

The deadline for the grant is 28th February each year.


Captive care grants awards


Pin Chatpongcharoen, Oxford Brookes University. Gum Enrichment Experimentation to Improve Activity or Reduce Stereotypic Behaviour in Bengal Slow Loris, Nycticebus bengalensis, in Bang Phra Wildlife Domestic Research Station, Chonburi, Thailand. Awarded £875.

Abstract: Wild slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.) are threatened by hunting, and the illegal wildlife trade, even though this genus is protected in all range countries where it occurs. In Thailand, overpopulation of Bengal slow lorises (Nycticebus bengalensis) in Bang Phra Wildlife Domestic Research Station is a big problem due to limited enclosures and spaces that are not plentiful for all confiscated animals. However, a newly launched conservation action plan for Thailand recommends reintroducing this species to their natural habitat. Training and modifying animal behaviour is also important to increase success rate of reintroduction, so our project plans to observe and improve animal welfare by using environmental enrichment, especially exudate enrichment. Exudates are the most important food for N. bengalensis in the wild, and the ability to gouge and digest gum have been shown to be essential for their reintroduction success. Our study will be divided into 4
conditions; baseline, 2 different gum enrichment and insect box that we will spend 3 months to investigate. We predict that after this set of trials, animals will display more activity and also reduce stereotypic behaviour in our sample groups, and be equipped with behaviour that will improve their chance for reintroduction to the wild.

Elizabeth Roe, University of Winchester. Breeding Success and Aelfare in Aye-Ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis): Wild and Captive Perspectives. Awarded £875.

Abstract: In the 1990s, aye-aye biology was largely investigated through the pioneering work of Eleanor J. Sterling. Over 20 years later, knowledge of aye-aye percussive foraging has increased yet other captive (and wild) behaviour is poorly understood and aye-ayes typically have poor welfare and breeding success. Understanding breeding behaviour is vital for promoting an individual’s welfare and the survival of the species as aye-ayes are endangered. This project will produce three datasets to fulfil the following aims: 1) Life history and social behaviour data for both unsuccessful and successful captive births using the ZIMS database (international zoo record-keeping system). Aim: To determine statistical predictors of successful birth. 2) Captive behavioural data (including enclosure use). A breeding pair at ZSL London Zoo observed for a year (to capture multiple breeding cycles). Aim: To understand how enclosures can be altered to promote successful breeding. 3) A year-long observation of wild behaviour. Aim: To provide ‘normal’ reference points to determine captive welfare issues. Combined, these datasets will allow husbandry guidelines to be established that promote breeding success and aid effective aye-aye conservation.

Gregg Tulley, Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA). Primate Care Training at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Awarded £750.

Abstract: Most primates rescued by wildlife centers in Africa require specialized treatment to recover from the physical and psychological trauma they have endured, and high-quality care is crucial to giving these primates the quality of life they need. Though the wildlife centers are dedicated to providing animals with the best possible care, they often do not have the funding, resources, or connections to provide their staff with advanced training by skilled instructors. The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) sends international animal care specialists to wildlife centers through the Primate Care Training (PCT) program. These highly experienced instructors teach customized training modules based on internationally recognized best practices in animal care to wildlife center staff. Since 2017, the program has produced significant long-term improvements in the welfare of thousands of rescued primates. This year, PASA will facilitate Caroline Griffis’ return to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda. Caroline will build on last year’s sessions, adapting her animal care training modules based on a thorough understanding of the sanctuary’s needs. A captive care grant from PSGB will make it possible to train all the animal care staff at Ngamba Island and substantially improve the welfare of its 49 rescued chimpanzees.


Emma Hankinson, Bournemouth University. Orangutan Sleep Architecture: Exploring the Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep and Sleeping Platform Construction for Cognitive Function. Awarded £675.

Abstract: A primate spends approximately one-third of its life sleeping, and the quality of this sleep will affect the animal’s well-being and behaviour the following day. Understanding how to achieve high quality sleep is therefore an important, though greatly understudied aspect of animal welfare. Sleep architecture is quantified for only 21 primate species, and notable sampling gaps exist, especially in regards to great apes. Scientific investigation into what constitutes high quality sleep in the orangutan will lead to increased welfare in captive situations, and provide further data on great ape sleep, characterised as high priority. This study will use Infra-red videography at Twycross zoo to determine 1) which sleeping substrates and external influences lead to improved sleep quality in orangutans (measured from sleep architecture and next day behaviours) and 2) health effects of reduced sleep through investigating cortisol levels from faecal samples. This innovative project will not only provide critical data on great ape sleep, but will provide information to enrich and enhance sleeping conditions for zoo dwelling apes, and to achieve beneficial sleep husbandry practices that ensure and increase animal welfare.

Emmeline Howarth, Liverpool John Moores University. Physiology, Cognition and Behaviour: a Three-Pronged Approach to Welfare Assessment. Awarded £800.

Abstract: Primates in research are a special case for welfare assessment. At the Centre for Macaques (CFM) there is a drive for establishing sustainable systems to monitor and improve the welfare of the UK’s largest macaque breeding colony. As part of my PhD, I am instigating and testing the efficacy of different welfare assessment tools and approaches at CFM. By triangulating physiological (cortisol and thermal profile), cognitive (attention bias), behavioural and contextual (veterinary inspection) data, I aim to develop and embed welfare assessment protocols into standard husbandry practices. This protocol will particularly target breeding females as maternal stress impacts foetal and infant development and therefore, has the biggest impact on lifelong wellbeing.

Stefano Vaglio, University of Wolverhampton. The Sensory Enriched Primate. Awarded £1000.

Abstract: Enrichment can be defined as a dynamic process that structures and changes the captive animal environment improving their psychological and physiological wellbeing by increasing the opportunities for expression of species-specific behaviour and by decreasing the occurrence of abnormal behaviours. The ability to respond appropriately to stress and to cope with challenges is considered an important aspect of wellbeing and is now a fundamental part of zoo animal husbandry. Increasing numbers of studies are investigating the impact by environmental enrichment programmes on captive primate behaviour; however, these studies have focused on food and manipulative enrichments, neglecting the potential of sensory ones. This project aims to investigate the effects of a new enrichment, based on scent stimuli, in three primate species (red ruffed lemur, emperor tamarin, Bornean orang-utan) across all major lineages (lemurs, monkeys, apes). It integrates commonly used behavioural observations with established faecal hormone and acoustic signal analyses, constituting an objective approach to test whether the new scent enrichment can improve captive primate welfare. This project will provide findings which should also entail quantifiable impact, such as best practices adopted by European zoos through amendments in management policies released by Studbook Keepers and Taxon Advisory Groups Coordinators for the study species.



Emily Saunders, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham. An Enclosure Design Tool (EDT) to Elicit Wild-Type Behaviours in Rehabilitant Orangutans. Awarded £950.

Abstract: We have devised an Enclosure Design Tool (EDT) to elicit wild-type behaviours in captive apes. This has been well received by the Zoo community, and we now aim to develop an EDT for orangutan sanctuaries in range countries. The EDT quantitatively compares data on the behavioural ecology of captive apes with the behaviour of their wild counterparts, and recommends enclosure modifications to encourage wild-type behavioural profiles. This project aims to test the effects of different structural and enrichment materials on the behaviour of rehabilitant orangutans at Samboja Lestari, Indonesia, in order to identify cost-effective recommendations for orangutan sanctuaries. Successful development of an EDT for orangutan sanctuaries would provide a robust evidence base for improving the welfare of rehabilitant individuals in range countries, and ensure that they possess the physical and cognitive skills needed for successful reintroduction into the wild.



Anthony Denice, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA, USA. The Social Behaviour of Rehabilitated Black-Handed Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi). Awarded £700.

Abstract: Spider monkeys (genus: Ateles) are large New World primates that have a fluid, sexually-segregated social system characterized by frequent changes in subgroup size, membership, and cohesion throughout the day. In captivity, providing appropriate housing and social conditions for such a species is challenging. Reported patterns of aggression appear to reflect their inability to regulate social relationships in a species-typical manner. As aggression can lead to stress and injury, evaluating how captive spider monkeys mitigate aggression in different housing conditions is critical to their welfare. We will observe four ‘troops’ of rehabilitated black-handed spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) housed at Wildtracks’ Primate Rehabilitation Centre in Belize. Troops are given access to a second enclosure on a rotating basis, enabling us to observe them in multiple housing conditions. We hypothesize that spider monkeys can regulate social interactions and associations depending on whether they have access to one or two enclosures. Therefore, we predict that monkeys will perform more tension-regulating behaviours when restricted to one enclosure. With two enclosures available, we predict that associations parallel those of wild counterparts and that aggression will be less severe. Furthermore, we expect scratching, an anxiety-related displacement activity, to decrease when a second enclosure is also accessible.



Holly Asquith-Barnes, Royal Veterinary College London. Assessing the Effectiveness of Thermal Imaging in the Identification of Arthritic Conditions in Non-human Primates - a Tool for Improving Welfare. Awarded £690.

Abstract: This project aims to determine whether infrared thermography (thermal imaging) is a useful tool in identifying arthritis in non-human primates. In human and animal patients this disease leads to pain and a reduced range of motion in affected joints. Thermography is able to show an animal's physiological state by graphically mapping skin surface temperature in response to changes in blood flow and can be used to visualise inflammation. Thermal images will be taken of primates suffering from arthritis, the thermal symmetry and average temperatures of these images will be compared to comparable areas of the individuals own body and to those of healthy conspecifics. If significant differences are consistently found between images of arthritic and healthy primates it will be considered suggestive that thermal imaging may have a role in remotely identifying arthritis in non-human primates.

Jamie Whitehouse, Portsmouth University. Are stress-related behaviours meaningful to conspecifics in captive macaques? Awarded £600.

Abstract: It is unknown whether the specific behaviours accompanying stress in primates are understood by observing conspecifics. A cognitive understanding of stress-behaviours (yawning, or scratching) could be an invaluable tool when managing social relationships in a group, but equally, observing stress in others could be stressful, and thus have an impact on welfare. Through a series of cognitive experiments, I aim to test whether sanctuary-housed Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus, n = 6) can (1) categorise stress-related behaviours into discrete behavioural signals, and (2) reliably associate these behaviours to social stimuli of a negative valence. The findings of this project could lead to better welfare for primates (and potentially other animals) held in captivity, including those in biomedical facilities and laboratories, who may be adversely affected by witnessing the stress of others.



Francis Cabana, Oxford Brookes. Wild Bites:  Using Nutritional Ecology (Native Ingredients and Chemical Composition) of the Javan Slow Loris to Improve Captive Feeding Husbandry. Awarded £750. 

Abstract: Asia’s slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.) are heavily impacted by the illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia (1). Confiscated lorises by Customs officials comprise a large percentage of animals in rescue centers and zoological institutions (1). Despite evidence from four species in the wild that lorises largely consume exudates and nectar, captive lorises are often fed a fruit diet (2), with approximately 63% of facilities reporting diet-related health issues including dental, renal, facial problems, obesity and impaired breeding (2,3,4). In this study I will follow radio collared free-ranging javan slow lorises (N. javanicus) for 14 months, itemising and quantifying their native diet.  Samples of all food items will be analysed for protein, fat, carbohydrates, ash, macro-minerals and trace elements. Data will be used to create nutritional recommendations for captive slow lorises, and develop nutritionally balanced and appropriate diets for captive animals.  Validation of diet improvements will be conducted  at Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Centre in Java, where lorises will be fed current diets as well as a naturalistic, suggested diet based on field results. Furthermore, intrinsic ability of lorises to utilize chitin will be evaluated.  Activity budgets, nutrient intakes and digestibility will be assessed and statistically compared against the wild data collected.

Sonya Kahlenberg, GRACE. Monitoring the Impact of a Forest Enclosure on Welfare and Reintroduction Potential of Orphaned Grauer’s Gorillas in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Awarded £750. 

Abstract: The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center was established near the Tayna Nature Reserve in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2009 to care for the rising number of infant Grauer’s gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) confiscated from poachers and traders in DRC. Grauer’s gorillas are only found in eastern DRC and were recognized in 2012 as among the world’s 25 most endangered primates, due to rampant habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and insecurity in the region. GRACE’s ultimate goal is to rehabilitate and eventually reintroduce gorillas back into the wild as part of the collaborative Conservation Action Plan being implemented for Grauer’s gorillas. To progress toward this goal, we are building a 24-acre forest enclosure that will give the gorillas daily access to their natural habitat. We are requesting partial funding to support a research project that will document the gorillas’ introduction to and use of this new environment. In particular, we will monitor behavior and noninvasively measure stress to evaluate the wellbeing of the gorillas in this space and their acquisition of skills needed for reintroduction. Results will help GRACE provide better rehabilitative care for resident gorillas and evaluate each individual’s suitability for reintroduction.

Captive care grants awarded in previous years


  • Colleen Goh, University of Liverpool. Effects of enrichment of the physical environment on locomotion and activity levels in captive Western lowland gorillas in the UK. Awarded £575.  
  • Emma Williams, Oxford Brookes University. The behavioural ecology of the Northern Ceylon grey slender loris, Loris lydekkerianus nordicus: A comparison of activity, diet and behavioural repertoires in natural and captive environments. Awarded £575. 


  • Rosalie Dench, Bornean Orangutan Survival Foundation. Important diseases of rehabilitant Orangutans: Establishing normal reference ranges for body weight and blood parameters. Awarded £897. 
  • Hannah Trayford, University of Cambridge. Monitoring Welfare Strategies for Rehabilitant Orangutans (Pongo sp.) in Indonesia. Awarded £750. 


Due to a lack of suitable applications, no awards were made in the April 2011 grant round. However, £400 was awarded (jointly with the Conservation Working Party) to John and Margaret Cooper to assist with running two short workshops concerned with providing training to local Kenyan and Ugandan veterinarians and wildlife biologists. They were trained in techniques that will promote the health and welfare of primates in the wild and in captivity.


  • Claire Watson, University of Stirling. Promoting marmoset welfare through the establishment of an open access website. Awarded £500. 
  • Richard Moore, Oxford Brookes University. Protocol, field methods and follow-up: Measuring the viability of Indonesian slow loris re-introductions, with a focus on the Critically Endangered Nycticebus javanicus. Awarded £750. 
  • Kathryn Shutt, University of Durham. Validation of a faecal glucocorticoid metabolite assay for the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Awarded £250.


  • Diana Marsilio. The impact of browse and fruit consumption on regurgitation and reingestion in captive western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla).
  • Olivier Caillabet. A parasitological survey of semi-captive drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus): Implications for reintroduction to the wild. 


Example publications from work supported by CCWP grants