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How Do Baby Monkeys Respond to Separation & Loss?

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Every year, thousands of monkeys are shipped and flown across the globe.

They are bred in captivity and subjected to cruel living conditions away from their families.

Infants are snatched from their mothers and are never released back into the wild. Many of them are killed when they are no longer considered to be “useful.”

While we don’t like to hear about these things, it’s time for you to open your ears and listen to the cries of these infant monkeys being separated from their mothers, desperately trying to hold on to their children and being shipped across the world for the sake of “science.”

Research indicates that being separated from their mothers can cause irreversible damage to the infant monkeys’ brains. Read on as we uncover the depth of the damage caused by the trade of monkeys and their separation from their natural habitat.

The Stages of Grief

Studies have shown that monkeys undergo a number of phases to cope with their loss:

Stage 1: Protest

Most primates express their grief at initial separation in the form of repetitive, high-pitched calls, often accompanied by haphazard physical movement or other activity. These repeated calls are their plea to be reunited with their mother or even any other member of their species who will provide them with protection and comfort.

Some infants may use up so much of their energy in an attempt to be reunited with their mothers that they may even die during this stage.

Stage 2: Depression

After around 24-36 hours of screaming in protest, these vulnerable primates pretty much lose interest in everything. They become virtually inactive and will be unresponsive even to novel situations that would normally spark excitement among infant monkeys.

Their body language also starts changing – unlike in normal circumstances when they’re alert with their head high and eyes wide open, depressed monkeys curl up into a ball with their heads lowered. Their eyes remain closed despite the fact that infant monkeys generally can’t sleep without being in contact with their mothers. They may also maintain oral contact with their genitalia, fur, and limbs.

After a few days in this state, these infants may appear to return to normal. Their posture and response rate will improve, but certain behaviors will be altered beyond repair.

Stage 3: Detachment

Infants that are eventually reunited with their mothers may maintain their distance and avoid any kind of contact with them.

Some monkeys reach the point of despondency where they will become so lifeless that they’ll just stare vacantly into space. In fact, even the slightest movement will be so alien to them, that if they accidentally even lift an arm, they’ll be shocked by it and may shout in fear.

Long-Term Psychological & Physical Damage

Even after the grief stages, infant monkeys will never be the same. When they are separated from their mothers during the stages of development, their brain sustains permanent damage. Like humans, monkeys cope with stress through the release of cortisol (hormones released during stressful situations). Studies have shown that the amount of stress released by these separated infants was quite low, and their response rate to stress-inducing events was quite slow, even after a few years had passed. Low levels of cortisol can cause physical weakness, lower energy levels, and can upset your overall mood.

Prolonged stress and slow release of cortisol can induce anxiety in monkeys and make them less sociable. It can also weaken the immune system and increase the threat of illnesses.

Some monkeys also develop serious aggression, not just towards others, but also towards themselves. It has been observed that some socially isolated monkeys reached the point where they started tearing out their own limbs.

Severe Psychological Impact on Monkeys in Research Facilities

Monkeys are most frequently separated from their mothers for the sake of animal testing since their behavior, and psychological makeup closely resembles that of human beings. In these labs, infant monkeys are subjected to psychological torture, including permanent separation from their families, temporary separation, or controlled exposure.

Such tests can damage infant monkeys drastically like:

  • Making infants aggressive and unresponsive towards their own mothers.
  • Death of infants that were kept in cages and isolation chambers.
  • Death of infants due to altered temperature conditions.
  • Stunted growth and mental maturity due to unnatural living conditions and contact with their mothers.

Apart from behavioral testing, many monkeys are simply bought for testing of cosmetic products and the impact of medicinal drugs which can kill them either over a period of time or instantly.

Do Infant Monkeys Become Normal After Being Returned to their Mothers?

Even if infants are reunited with their mothers, the damage they’ve suffered is more or less irreversible. They will be socially inactive and are generally more easily frightened. The major problem is that they are less responsive to novel situations, which can put their lives in danger if they are released back in the wild. Many monkeys may also become frightened for no reason.

Play Your Part in Protecting Monkeys from Suffering

Many organizations are working tirelessly to protect monkeys from being used as test subjects in laboratories. It’s time for you to step up and find ways to aid these organizations, either by donating to them or joining active protests.

The simplest step you can take is to stop using products from brands that are known for testing on animals. Another one is to ban zoos that are known for breeding monkeys (and other animals) in captivity.

You’ve heard the pain in a child’s voice when they cry, and the distress their mothers also experience. It is no different in monkeys where infants spend days screeching and calling out for their mothers, and the mothers fight viciously against their enemies to keep their babies safe. Step up and help to end this abuse now.

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