Living Links Newsletter – March 2024

Welcome to the March edition of the Living Links newsletter – your source of all things monkey and more!

What’s new at Living Links?


Living Links researchers Dr Emma McEwen and Andreea Miscov, who have been running the previously mentioned VR experiment, are now replicating this experiment in a more traditional physical cup task. Instead of virtual fruit hiding in virtual hedges, there are real treats hiding under cups on a table in front of the capuchins. They will directly compare the monkey’s performance in the VR versus the physical task to see if the VR version is representative. Carlos, one of our East capuchins who is known as a great research participant, has been doing especially well at this exciting new task!

A typical cup game set up

Carlos relaxing outside


Dr Emma McEwen has also had a paper published on research that was completed at the Budongo Research Unit, our chimpanzee research centre at Edinburgh Zoo- congratulations Emma!

The study asks to what extent do humans and apes share the cognitive mechanisms that support optimal coordination and collaboration? They created a tool handover experiment to assess whether joint action planning in chimpanzees reflects similar patterns to humans.

Chimpanzees’ chosen handover locations shifted towards the location of the experimenter’s free or unobstructed hand, even though their individual half of the task was unobstructed. These findings indicate that chimpanzees and humans may share common cognitive mechanisms or predispositions that support joint action!

If you would like to read the full article, it can be found here.

Velu caring for his little sister


Velu taking part in research


Visitor Experience

Have you ever wanted to get involved with the research at Living Links? We believe that anyone can be a scientist, and in the coming months we will be inviting you to join in on some observational research!

After some training to help you tell the monkey species apart, we will ask you to count the number of each species you can see in designated zones around their enclosures.

This data will help contribute to a longitudinal study on our mixed species enclosure. Where does each species spend most of their time? Do the squirrel monkeys and capuchins hang out together? Can areas of the enclosure be improved to better suit the monkeys?  We can use this information to better inform the care of the monkeys long-term. Keep an eye out for future updates!

Our researchers ready to help.

This could be you one day!

Monkey Business

The gelada enclosure at the zoo is undergoing an exciting refurbishment! New visitor windows are being installed for a better view of the large gelada paddock, and the zoo are creating wonderful new rock shelters, climbing stumps for the playful geladas to leap between, and installing large tree trunks for them to climb up high. The geladas are going to love this, and we can’t wait for them to explore the larger and more fun enclosure. The ground will remain muddy for a while until the grass can recover, but the geladas will also really enjoy digging through this for worms! Watch this space and hopefully you can see the geladas up close soon!


Monkey of the Month

Our monkey of the month for March is Pixie! And the reason? For learning to turn!

It might sound simple, but learning to turn in the virtual environment touchscreen task can be challenging for the monkeys and is an important part of their training. Pixie, the youngest capuchin in the West group, had been lagging behind the others in her training, not quite understanding how to turn.

She has gotten quite confident in using the VR space to collect the fruit that she sees directly in front of her, but this month, to the delight of our researchers, she has discovered that there might be even more hiding if she moves left and right instead of straight ahead!

Did you know…

Humans, apes, African and Asian monkeys all have trichromatic or normal colour vision, meaning we can all perceive red, green, and blue light.

South American monkeys are however mostly dichromats. For capuchin monkeys, most females have trichromatic vision like us, whereas males’ vision is entirely dichromatic, being unable to see either red or green light. The only way you can tell which type of colour blindness they have is by genetic testing. What we did instead to make sure our research is accessible to all our monkeys was to simulate both red and green colour blindness and choose a fruit in a colour that could be perceived by both types. The main aim was for the monkeys to be able to see the fruit against the background of the grass and hedges for our VR trials, rather than to just be able to see colourful things.

Our simulation was created using human colour blindness parameters, so it is only an approximation and not an exact rendering of capuchin colour vision.

A & D show normal (trichromatic) vision, B & E shows how it is perceived by people who are unable to perceive Red. C&F show how it appears to those who cannot perceive green.

Question of the Month

Q: Do all the monkeys participate in research?

A: Participating in research is completely voluntary. The monkeys can choose whether or not they want to join in, and they are under no obligation to. Some of our monkeys really enjoy the research (and the rewards!) and choose to participate most days! Others, such as the low ranking Mekoe, are a little more nervous and choose their opportunities carefully. The youngest monkeys, like Jaci, Coquito and Calabaza, build up confidence as they get used to the cubicle area. Jaci has just participated for the first time recently!

Researcher of the Month

Our Researcher of the month is Alanna Cuvelier! Alanna completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and is currently studying for her MSc in Psychology of Individual Differences at Edinburgh University. Her research is focused on evolutionary and comparative psychology, in terms of both personality traits and intelligence.

While at Living Links, she will be conducting an observational study examining whether personality traits influence play partner choice in  brown capuchins. Previous research suggests that capuchins prefer to play with individuals that are similar to them, be it in age, sex or rank. Does personality also play a role? She predicts that similar personalities will attract each other to carry out play behaviors. Alanna will get the expert opinions of the keepers to assess 54 (!) different personality traits in the monkeys including:

Curious: subject has a desire to see or know about  objects, devices, or other individuals.  This includes a desire to know about  the affairs of other individuals  that  do not directly concern the subject.

Lazy: the monkey is relatively inactive, indolent, or slow moving and avoids energetic activities.

Playful: the monkey is eager to engage in lively, vigorous, sportive, or acrobatic behaviors with or without other individuals.


A curious bunch!

Playtime at Living Links

Living Links Newsletter – February 2024

Welcome to the February edition of the Living Links newsletter,

your source of all things monkey and more!

What’s new at Living Links?


Three new researchers have recently joined the Living Links team; Krishan Muir (University of St Andrews), Agnes Hivet (ENS of Lyon) and Alanna Cuvelier (University of Edinburgh). Alanna and Krishan are conducting observational projects with the capuchins (learn more about Krishan’s project further below!) and Agnes is a visiting placement student who will help out on a number of projects, learning all about research at Living Links. You will hear more about their work in future newsletters, so watch this space!

New researchers Krishan, Agnes and Alanna

This month has seen a lot of  discussion around experimental apparatus design and pilot testing of materials amongst our researchers! Getting apparatus design right for both the experiment and for the monkeys is a very challenging but fun process. From the types of materials used, to the angles needed for food to slide down a tube, or how high a monkey can safely lift an object, getting apparatus right is a vital part of the research process. Learn more by reading our blog – click below!

Read more about the challenges of experimental apparatus design here!

Visitor Experience

As part of our colourful new look at Living Links you will notice the new Living Links Tree timeline in the central visitor area! This cleverly designed display by the RZSS Interpretation team tells the story of the amazing people who founded Living Links and the development of the research centre over the years. You can find QR codes dotted throughout which features some of our amazing accomplishments.

Monkey of the Month

Our (cheeky) monkey of the month for February is East group capuchin Cayenne! Cayenne is 5 years old and while he loves research, he does sometimes make it a little difficult for the researchers! He often keeps returning to the cubicles after he has already had his turn, and likes to use the area as his personal playground, sometimes banging the slides in play and scaring the other monkeys testing! His enthusiasm is infectious though, and with time he will learn to let other monkeys have their own time alone in the cubicles to do their training, testing and receive their own treats!  We love how much he enjoys research!

Question of the Month

Q: How do the Living Links monkeys get their names?

A: When a new baby is born in Living Links, the keeper that finds the infant is allowed to choose their name! A very special privilege!

You might notice that most of the monkeys have names inspired by South America, the region where these monkeys are native to! For example, Santi is named after Santiago, the capital of Chile.

Researcher of the Month

Our Researcher of the Month is Krishan Muir, an undergraduate student at the University of St Andrews who is conducting an observational study at Living Links.

While many of our researchers run experiments in our specially designed research rooms, other researchers study the natural behaviours of the monkeys in their enclosure. Krishan’s research focuses on whether capuchin monkeys exhibit contagious behaviours, like humans do. Krishan will be assessing yawning and scratching through an observational study of the capuchins from the East enclosure. Before starting any observational research, our researchers have to undergo the difficult task of learning to accurately identify all the monkeys who live in the wing in which they are researching. This skill will allow Krishan to identify which monkey viewed one of the contagious behaviours and allows him to determine if their perception of said yawn or scratch triggered them to yawn or scratch themselves.

Manuel yawning and Flojo watching

Living Links Newsletter – January 2024

Welcome to the January edition of the Living Links newsletter,

your source of all things monkey and more!

What’s new at Living Links?


Virtual reality (VR) touchscreen update! The capuchins have been hard at work completing the training phases and Dr Emma McEwan and Andreea Miscov are now running the first VR experiment!

Emma and Andreea have converted a classic physical memory cup game experiment into a VR environment game; instead of cups there are hedges! The capuchins start on a ‘hilltop’ looking down at the hedges and they can see which contains the fruit reward- however as they walk downhill towards the hedges their view of the fruit disappears and they must remember where it was! The distance of the hedges represent the memory time delays from the original experiment.

East group youngster Matoury has excelled at the experiment and is soaring ahead of the others! Click on the video below to see Matoury in action and an example of the three conditions representing the 0, 15 and 30 second delays in the original cup game!

Visitor Experience

We have some new QR codes at Living Links which visitors can scan to be linked to our monkey ID pages on our website- learn our monkeys names, see how old they are, and have a go at trying to spot them in real life! We hope to make a more interactive version of this ID guide and an ID game for visitors, so watch this space!

Click for ID Guides!

We also have some new videos playing at Living Links that give visitors an overview of what Living Links is all about and some of the topics our researchers are exploring. Click the video below to watch our Living Links Tour! The videos are also now hosted on our Living Links Website which you can view by clicking the button link below the tour video.

Click here to watch the rest of our core videos and learn more about Living Links and our areas of research!

Monkey Business
The research team enjoyed a well-deserved two-week break over the holidays. Throughout this period, the committed keepers continued caring for the Living Links monkeys, making sure they experienced the warmth of the holiday season. Our animals were treated to special personalised Christmas gifts from the keepers containing their favourite treats!


Monkey of the Month

At 28 years old Lana is the oldest capuchin in the West group, and in fact across all our monkeys! She used to be the dominant female of the group and had little time to dedicate to research with so much to keep an eye on in the group! Last year she unfortunately lost her position to the younger mother- daughter duo Pedra and Pixie. However a plus side of this is she has had more time for research and this past couple of months her attendance at research sessions has sky rocketed!

Question of the Month

Q: What’s the trick to telling the monkeys apart?

A: The squirrel monkeys make it easy with their stylish necklaces, each adorned with either one or two beads for identification. In our West Group, Toomi rocks a single pink bead, while Beni sports two pink beads and Vallen has a black and a red bead! It’s a fashionable and functional way to recognize our lively bunch! The capuchins on the other hand we have to learn by facial features…see the links in our Visitor update above to learn more!

Researcher of the Month

We introduced Gabriella Smith last month and her first experiment, “Susceptibility and physio-behavioral reactions to cognitive illusions in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella)” is now almost complete. Before starting the experiment, Gabriella had to determine individual food preferences, that is, the high, medium, and low value foods, and found that most monkeys preferred raisin to grape and both of these to maize flake. Once food preferences were established,  monkeys could move onto the experiment, a bait-and-switch magic trick in which a food item appears to be dropped into a tower and then the tower is removed and the food is revealed on top wood shavings. Here, each monkey experiences four trials, the first and last with no change from the food dropped in to the food revealed, while the middle two trial involve a “magical” food change!

In addition to behavioral responses (e.g., vocalizations; digging time), Gabriella is also using thermal imaging to see if monkeys change temperature in response to experiencing a surprise magic trick. Previous research suggests that, in response to a positive event (such as, in this case, the change of a maize flake to a raisin), the temperature of primates’ noses will drop, while that of their eyes will rise. In a negative event surprise (such as a raisin to maize flake change), the literature suggests the upper lip temperature will increase.

Gabriella has also performed this study in kea parrots and Goffin’s cockatoos and found that both species were susceptible to the illusion, with the kea being more likely to dig and cockatoos to raise their crests in the magic trials. This species comparison between parrots and monkeys offers a valuable lens into the emotional expression of surprise in the animal kingdom.


Living Links Newsletter – December 2023

Welcome to the December edition of the Living Links newsletter,

your source of all things monkey and more!

What’s new at Living Links?


Living Links welcomes Gabriella Smith, a visiting PhD student from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria. In Vienna, Gabriella has studied themes of curiosity such as violations of expectations, explanation seeking, and strategic curiosity in both kea and cockatoo parrots. At Living Links, Gabriella will be examining similar themes in the capuchin monkeys, such as how they react and seek information following a bait-and-switch magic trick, as well as whether the monkeys search strategically to find food that rattles. By utilising experimental methods such as classic cubicle testing, thermal imaging, and observation from the viewing decks, Gabriella aims to tackle questions such as “what does curiosity look like in different species?” and “what emotions are involved following a surprise in animals?”.

Visitor Experience

We are excited to announce a new member of to our team at Living Links! Jessica is joining us from The University of St Andrews. She is currently working as an administrator with a focus on public engagement and research impact. Her primary focus is getting the word out about all the great work done at Living Links and BRU, including through this newsletter!

We would also like to share Postdoc researcher Eva Reindl’s research video for visitors, describing her interest in primates’ understanding of sequences; we featured Eva as our ‘Researcher of the Month’ in Novembers newsletter! Click on the video on the right to learn more about Eva’s research topic.

Monkey of the Month

Our monkey of the month is Jorge!

He truly stands out in the keeper training sessions. Initially, Jorge was quite the elusive participant, rarely choosing to attend sessions. When he did venture inside, he was quite shy, making it a challenge to even offer him a treat without sending him scurrying away. However, after a few months, Jorge blossomed into one of our top participants, radiating confidence and proving to be an absolute standout in the group.

Did you know…    

Brown capuchin monkeys are pretty smart cookies! They’ve been known to use stones as tools to crack open difficult foods such as nuts or shellfish. You may spot our monkeys using stones, bamboo or logs to bash other objects in their enclosure. Though Squirrel monkeys have been known to use tools, they do so less than their larger friends.

Question of the Month

Q: How do capuchin monkeys communicate with each other?

A: Capuchin monkeys communicate using a variety of vocalisations, facial expressions, and body language. One interesting aspect is their use of different vocal calls to convey specific information, such as warning calls for potential predators or indicating the location of food sources.

Keeper of the Month

This month we are highlighting one of the brilliant keeping team that our researchers work so closely with at Living Links, and the training activities that are so important to their role.

Kenna Valles has been a keeper on the Living Links & Budongo section at Edinburgh Zoo for three years, working with chimpanzees, gibbons, bagot goats, capuchins and squirrel monkeys. She has a BSc in Animal Behaviour and an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare. She has been a zookeeper for five years, having also worked at Shepreth Wildlife Park, and previously worked in the field of conservation and wildlife rehabilitation. She is also a representative on the Animal Welfare Advisory Group for RZSS, and important role within the zoo.

Kenna is very enthusiastic about animal training and has spearheaded new training initiatives at Living Links. Animal training is an important tool in animal care, as it allows keepers and vets to carry out husbandry and veterinary procedures more easily and in a manner that is less stressful for the animals. She has been particularly successful with recent training of the squirrel monkeys to improve their voluntary entering of a ‘holding pen’ in their enclosure used for veterinary procedures. While the year before only one ‘West’ monkey entered this area voluntarily for annual vaccinations, through positive reinforcement training, Kenna and the team have successfully encouraged the whole ‘West’ group to voluntarily enter the holding pen for this years vaccinations! Once locked in the area their behaviour was noticeably less stressed and more confident than previous years too- a great success! Read more in Kenna’s blog post below!


Click here to learn more about the training Kenna and the team has worked on in Kenna’s blog for our Living Links website!

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!


Living Links Newsletter – October 2023

Welcome to the October edition of the Living Links newsletter

your source of all things monkey and more!

What’s new at Living Links?


This month, the monkeys will be lifting weights! No, not by hitting the gym – our capuchins will be taking part in a new project where they must distinguish between light and heavy objects.

Led by researcher Poppy Lambert, the study aims to measure the ability of capuchins to choose either the heavier or the lighter object of a pair in a simple discrimination task, and compare this to a similar study with Goffin cockatoos. This study will help us understand more about how the minds of these different animals evolved, to make theories of how natural ecology and a species’ lifestyle shapes the way their mind works.

Visitor Experience

Last month, we hosted a special event at the zoo for the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Curious series- Curious Primate Minds! RSE, RZSS and the University of St Andrews came together to run a special day for participants to learn more about the kinds of research taking place at the two primate research centres onsite at Edinburgh Zoo; Living Links and the Budongo Research Unit.

Enthusiastic participants had a tour of the wonderful research facilities, watched live research in action, and then joined a special workshop with our lovely researchers to learn more about how exactly we explore primate minds using voluntary experiments, what kinds of technology we use in research, and how we communicate science to zoo visitors and beyond.

Monkey Business

Our capuchins and squirrel monkeys have some new nest baskets and shelters installed in their outdoor enclosures. The keeper team have made the high up nest baskets by weaving together old fire hose, a popular material for zoo enrichment and structures, and the onsite P&E team made the large wooden shelter boxes. The Gardens team helped install them last week- not an easy task getting structures like these up high for the monkeys! A collaborative effort across multiple departments, and two groups of very happy monkeys!

Monkey of the Month

Our monkey in the spotlight this month is Coquito! Coquito means ‘little coconut’ but look how much he has grown already! Pictured with his mother Agnes here when he was just a few months old, and below this month at 2 years old, Coquito is now getting to the age where he is exploring the research cubicles and taking part in his first research sessions! He is very curious and very happy to get raisins for target training- an easy task we use for training the monkeys- and is re-visiting the cubicles more and more. It wont be long before he takes part in his first research experiment once his confidence and concentration levels are high. Coquito is part of our East capuchin group and you can spot him playing with the other youngsters- he is quite easy to identify as he has a dark face, a large upper head, distinct white patches below his black hairline, and close together orange eye, which he has inherited from his father Kato.

Question of the Month

Q: Do the capuchin and squirrel monkeys ever groom each other?

A: Actually no- squirrel monkeys in fact don’t groom at all, even one another. They instead use vocalisations and body touching, particularly with their tail, to stay close to one another and communicate. The capuchins on the other hand can be seen grooming one another all the time. In other multi-species primate groups, you sometimes see young individuals of one species ‘practicing’ their grooming techniques on another species, but we have not seen this at Living Links yet. More often we see the cheeky youngsters, like Coquito featured above, trying to pull the tails of the squirrel monkeys in play!


Researcher of the Month

This month, the researcher in the spotlight is Dr Eva Reindl who is a joint postdoctoral researcher with Durham University and the University of St Andrews.

Eva is broadly interested in learning which cognitive and social factors differentiate humans from their closest living relatives, the great apes. She is interested in social learning, culture, tool use, memory, and problem-solving. Her most recent work investigates how humans and other primates learn about sequences, and for this study she works with four species at Edinburgh Zoo; our squirrel monkeys and capuchins, the chimpanzees, and human children visiting the zoo!

She studied Psychology for both her BSc and MSc in Germany before embarking on a PhD in Psychology at the University of Birmingham here in the UK, leading to several lecturing and postdoctoral positions. She is a valued contributor to our public engagement events here at the zoo and the squirrel monkeys love her! They still get excited when she passes their window, even though her study has finished with them now!


Living Links Newsletter – September 2023

Welcome to the September edition of the Living Links newsletter – your source of all things monkey and more!

What’s new at Living Links?


This month, we have had some special research platforms installed in each of our West and East enclosures! The small square platforms will allow us to attach special research equipment, puzzle boxes and enrichment to specified locations in the enclosures that we can easily film from the balcony or research rooms. The monkeys immediately loved the new resting spots and have even been exploring their strength- click the link to see Cayenne with his rock!

This opens up a host of possible research experiments that will enhance current research activities at Living Links. Back in 2022 we piloted an enclosure research experiment involving individual and cooperative food puzzle boxes, which showed great promise, so we have great hope for group experiments in the enclosures- watch this space!

Visitor Experience

Last month, we launched our demo Citizen Science game. Online and offline versions of the game allow researchers to tailor the game to different age groups, inviting visitors to take part in real research by first completing scientist training and then collecting data on the monkeys in the East enclosure.

It’s been a huge success! Feedback from visitors shows great enthusiasm about learning more about capuchins and squirrel monkeys and the areas that they like to hang out in the most. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by so far, we hope to see more of you become true Living Links scientists.

Do you want to be a scientist?

Monkey of the Month

Our monkey in the spotlight this month is Elie! Elie is one of the more dominant monkeys in the East Group, mother to Flora, Lexi and Amarilla. She is easy to spot due to her large size and bright yellow bead necklace. She is curious and inquisitive, making her good at research. She likes to get access to the research games first and will pull other monkeys out by the tail if they try to jump in front of her.

Did you know…

Capuchins have prehensile tails (a tail adapted to grasp objects) whereas squirrel monkeys do not.

This means that for the capuchins, their tail can be used to grip or swing through branches, whereas for the squirrel monkeys, their tail can help them keep their balance or communicate with their group mates.

Question of the Month

Q: How many monkeys live at Living Links?

A: Currently, there are 21 East Group capuchins, 17 West Group capuchins, 13 East Group squirrel monkeys and 16 West Group squirrel monkeys. 68 individuals in total – that’s a lot of monkeys!

Do you have pressing questions for the researchers at Living Links? This is your opportunity to ask! Each month, our researchers will go through your questions and choose one to answer using their expertise.


Researcher of the Month

This month, the researcher in the spotlight is our Research Coordinator Kate Grounds. Kate has a MSc in Primate Conservation and some impressive research experience under her belt – from fieldwork with chimpanzees, toque macaques and vervet monkeys, to work on horse social cognition and emotional  awareness! She also spent 5 years in conservation project management with citizen science organisation Earthwatch.

Kate’s role manages all the students and research activities at both Living Links and the Budongo Research Unit (our chimpanzee research centre), and her hard work behind the scenes is the reason that research runs so smoothly. From scheduling all research, reviewing applications, liaising with the keeper team, training students in research practices and developing new  research initiatives, Kate does it all!

Besides that, she is a master with tools and a camera – she took most of the pictures you see in this newsletter and in our blog. Thank you, Kate!


Living Links Newsletter – August 2023

Welcome to the August edition of the Living Links newsletter – your source of all things monkey and more!

What’s new at Living Links?


The monkeys have been busy exploring new environments this month! We’re slowly introducing a “big box” to the capuchin cubicle training, which they seem to be loving – once they’re in, they don’t want to leave! The capuchins have also been learning to navigate a virtual environment, with some promising results.

Scroll down to our Researcher of the Month section to learn more!

Visitor Experience

Visitors have been loving the new interactives and signage we introduced last month, and we’re hard at work designing even more fun new materials.

This month, we will be trialing a new game where you can become one of our team of researchers and try collecting some real life data yourself – we hope you stop by!

Read about past visitor research!

Monkey of the Month

Our monkey in the spotlight for August is the beautiful Junon, the second oldest female capuchin on the East Wing. She is one of the best at research, and she has passed down her intelligence to her 5 offspring (Carlos, Chico, Reuben, Matoury and Jaci). Great work, Junon!

Did you know…

While squirrel monkeys are one of the smallest members of the primate family, they are also the primate with the largest brain to body mass ratio!


Question of the Month

Q: What do the monkeys like to eat the most?

A: The monkeys at Living Links love raisins, but their diet consists of a lot of healthy fruit and vegetables – even potatoes! Each monkey has their own preferences, however – they can be as picky as removing the skin of an apple!

Do you have pressing questions for the researchers at Living Links? This is your opportunity to ask! Each month, our researchers will go through your questions and choose one to answer using their expertise.

Researcher of the Month

This month, our researcher in the spotlight is PhD candidate Andreea Miscov!

Andreea recently completed a MSc in Comparative Psychology at the University of St Andrews, where she studied the memory abilities of the Living Links capuchins. She has recently returned to Living Links and is currently working alongside Dr Emma McEwen to discover whether capuchins are able to forage for food in a virtual environment within the cubicles.

Through her research, Andreea seeks to better understand the capabilities of capuchins, opening avenues to new methods for research and discovery. Check out her Twitter to learn more!

Living Links Newsletter – July 2023


Welcome to the newsletter for the Living Links to Human Evolution Research Centre, your source of all things monkey – and more!


The past month has been very exciting! We’ve had researchers investigating the following topics:

– Risk taking behaviours

– Sequence cognition (the ability to learn and understand sequences)

Scroll down read about our Researcher of the Month, and click here to visit our blog!


We’re starting the summer off with a bang at Living Links, introducing new signage and interactives! Come by the zoo to see the exciting changes in person.

We’ve also just wrapped up filming for some fun new videos about the centre and its research, so watch this space 👀


There’s never a dull day at Living Links. After months of renovations to the monkeys’ indoor enclosures, everything is open again and the monkeys are loving their new climbing frames.

Our monkey in the spotlight for July is the lovely Sol! She is one of the lower ranking female capuchins on the East Wing. Though she is always a bit nervous of the other monkeys, she has been coming into research more and more and enjoying her share of the tasty treats. Good job Sol!

This month, our researcher in the spotlight is Dr. Emma McEwen.

Emma has recently joined the team as a postdoctoral research fellow and but she’s no stranger to the primates at Edinburgh Zoo! During her PhD, Emma worked down at the Budongo Research Unit. Part of her research involved introducing the chimpanzees to virtual environment games, which she used to study the chimpanzees’ navigation skills and landmark use. In her role here at Living Links, Emma will be working with PhD student Andreea Miscov to train the capuchin monkeys to play similar virtual environment games. Through her research, Emma seeks to better understand the diversity of intelligence across species. Visit her Twitter to learn more.