Living Links Newsletter – November 2023

Welcome to the November edition of the Living Links newsletter

Your source of all things monkey and more!

What’s new at Living Links?


Over the past year we have been working with a new species at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo- the wonderful geladas! Gelada’s are a unique ‘grazing’ primate found only in Ethiopia, Africa and they are specialist feeders of grass, roots and tubers, collected or dug up by their nimble hands. Naturally they can be found in large troops of hundreds individuals, made up of multiple small harems led by dominant males. Here at the zoo we have a harem of 24 individuals, led by dominant male Negus.

After taking time to work out who is who and how to identify them, we are now excitingly  training them to come up to the fence and take part in research! And so far they love it! They are doing simple cup games to get them used to the process of choosing a cup and receiving a food reward, and learning to take turns doing this. Watch this space as we will be reporting more on gelada research in the near future- they are intelligent and interesting primates and we think they will be very successful at research games in the future!

Visitor Experience

Some of our regular visitors may have noticed that Living Links has recently undergone a change in appearance- after 15 years it felt time for a refresh! Led by Research Fellow Anna Redly, Director Professor Amanda Seed and RZSS Interpretation officer Krystyna Keir, the RZSS and University of St Andrews teams have worked closely together to design and implement a fresh, fun and colourful new look to Living Links. Read more below!

Click here to read more about our Living Links new look and upcoming further changes!


Monkey Business

Our monkeys are meeting two new keeper team members this month- Nailah and Amie have joined the Living Links and Budongo keeper team and are training at the research centre this month. As well as having to learn the names and faces/necklace ID’s of over 60 monkeys (!), the new keepers have to learn all the daily husbandry tasks associated with the successful running of a mixed species primate exhibit, as well as meet the researchers and learn how research activities run smoothly around this. Welcome Nailah and Amie to the team!

Monkey of the Month

Our monkey of the month is Flora!

She wears a red bead and is one of the most friendly squirrel monkeys. She is one of the more curious monkeys and from a past research study on personality was found to be one of the monkeys most interested in coming up to the visitor windows to say hello!

Did you know…

In the wild, squirrel monkeys spend 99% of their time in trees and shrub, so we’ve made sure to include lots of tall structures in their enclosure for them to jump between!


Question of the Month

Q: How many researchers can work at Living Links?

A: We can have 4 researchers working at the same time in our experimental research rooms, one with each of the monkey groups as there is a set of testing cubicles for each species on each side of the building (West and East). In addition to this we can have up to 4 observational researchers studying the monkeys natural behaviour from the big balcony areas. We also support interns and volunteers from time to time who assist projects needing an extra hand, and we share the Living Links office space with researchers from the Budongo Research Unit too, so often we have around 12-15 researchers about at any one time, making a wonderful research environment for shared experiences and expertise!

Researcher of the Month

Our researcher of the month this month is PhD candidate Poppy Lambert.

Poppy Lambert is a PhD student in the Comparative Cognition Unit of the Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford and a MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College London. In Austria, she has studied innovation in cockatoos and young children and has become interested in cognition related to weight information.

She has joined the team at Living Links for a year to investigate how easily the capuchin monkeys can learn to choose between light and heavy objects. She has run this exact experiment with the cockatoos already, and wants to compare their performances. To begin with she is getting the monkeys familiar with different material she wants to use. Keep your eyes peeled and you may see her with the monkeys and her weight game in the coming months!


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