Julia Hoy, from University of Queenlands’s School of Animal Studies, has been organizing a conference for the 25th annual meeting of the Australasian Primate Society this March. It will be starting next week on Friday March 9th and going on to the 11th.

Before I jump into the details of the conference, I passed the University of Queenland’s press release about this to Betsy today and she mentioned she has meet Julia at another conference two years ago! What a small world primatology operates in, no? Maybe some of other readers have met Julia before. If you need a photo to refresh your memory, here’s one of her and some squirrel monkeys:

Julia Hoy

Anyways back to the interesting stuff. Julia has managed to get Jon Coe, a ‘renowned international zoo designer,’ as one of the keynote speaker. He will be discussing a very creative and proactive form of animal care where,

“primate facilities [will give] animals more choice, independence and creativity through individualized care.”

What he means by this is effectively giving primates the freedom to manage their own lives, as they do in the wild. This is an intriguing concept, one that I side with completely. In this manner, humans are not imposing complete constraints of captivity upon the animals.

I also believe this concept is an interesting progression in the changes we have been seeing in zoos. Zoos have been breaking down their cages and creating habitats that better match the natural ecosystems the wild counterparts live in. With this step they also break down the psychological ‘cages’ upon which a human caregiver/zoo keeper exhibits a form of dominance over the animal. Jon sees it similarly. He,

“believe[s] this will lead to more confident, self-assured and motivated animals, which will not only reduce stress and improve animal well-being, but will create more active, interesting and informative displays.”

If you wanna see Jon Coe speak and you’re in Queenland, Jon’s free public lecture on Friday, March 9 from 6.30pm-7.30pm in the Lecture Theatre S304, Social Sciences Building (no. 24) at UQ St Lucia. And yet that’s just one of the topics that will be discussed. Other conference topics included animal health to self-recognition, diet, behavior and reasoning. Some of the other speakers will be:

For more conference information visit: http://www.primates.on.net/apsconf.htm

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