Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Marie E. Danforth

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Jeffrey Kaufmann

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Edwin Jackson

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


Salivary cortisol levels were taken on a male and a female howler monkey and compared with behavioral observations during their introduction to one another into an exhibit at the Hattiesburg Zoo in order to determine the link between behavior and stress. This study sought to answer the following research questions: What behavioral responses occur when two howler monkeys are introduced into the same exhibit at a zoo? How stressed are the animals at different stages of the introduction? And, what is the correlation between behaviors and hormones, if any?

The study spanned four phases including a baseline phase, the initial introduction phase, a post-introduction phase after the monkeys were allowed access to each other at night, a secondary introduction phase where four Macaw parrots were introduced into the exhibit, and a return to the third phase when the birds were removed. Behavior observations and salivary cortisol levels were also analyzed with regards to the four phases of the introduction.

Introduction Phase C, overnight access, was determined to an impact on several of the behaviors that were monitored. Cortisol levels for Monkey 1, the resident howler, increased on day one of the introduction and returned to baseline range shortly after. Cortisol levels for Monkey 2, the introduced howler, increased after the birds were introduced into the exhibit. No strong relationship was found between behavior and cortisol levels for Monkey 1. Pearson’s correlations indicate a relationship exists between increased salivary cortisol levels and howling and biting for Monkey 2. These results suggest that the behaviors of howling and biting could be behavioral expressions of physiological stress. Therefore it is important for zoos to monitor this behavior in case an intervention is needed.