Monkeys: the role of maternal attachment


Maternal attachment is a key part of a monkey ‘s life , having a mother is crucial for monkey survival. A mother who is present and available helps develop a sense of security and trust in other specimens. It is a bond that goes beyond simple nourishment. Maternal attachment is a deep relationship that is initially formed during pregnancy and further strengthened during breastfeeding.


Maternal attachment monkeys: examples

Monkeys have a bond with their mother which is very strong. Physical contact is an important part of maternal attachment. The monkeys cuddle up to each other, hug each other, scratch each other and preen each other. These interactions are important to monkeys as they help calm anxiety, build trust in the mother, and develop a sense of security.

In general, chimpanzees and other apes exhibit a strong attachment between mother and child . The mother takes care of her puppy from the moment of birth. She takes care of him, nurses him, cuddles him and takes care of him. Throughout their lives, monkey mothers care for their children , protect them, feed them and encourage them to explore the world.

Maternal attachment can also be seen in the play between mother and child. The monkeys play together, cuddle and help each other. Babies learn social behavior from their mothers and can learn to interact with similar others.


Monkeys can also show signs of maternal attachment when they feel threatened. They cling to their parents and cling to their mother when frightened. This is one way monkeys demonstrate their bond with their mother.


Maternal attachment can also be seen in the formation of social groups . Monkeys tend to form groups of mothers and offspring who help and protect each other . Monkey mothers are usually the leaders of the group and make important decisions that affect the life of the group.


Maternal attachment is one of the most powerful emotions a human being can experience. But it is something that is not limited only to man. A recent study has shown that maternal attachment is also present in monkeys.


A research team, led by a group of Duke University researchers , examined the relationship between white-faced macaque mothers and pups in Zambia. They noted that the mothers were very protective of the pups, both when they were present and when they were away.

The researchers observed that mothers spent more time with their pups and used them as a focal point for daily activities. This means that mothers didn’t move farther away from their pups than they were already nearby.

Additionally, mothers also provided emotional support to their pups. When the baby macaques were frightened or in distress, their mothers reassured them. If the puppies were sad or angry, the mothers comforted and encouraged them.


This study demonstrates that monkeys experience maternal attachment like humans . It shows that mothers use their emotions to support their babies and also try to protect them in difficult situations.

This study will help scientists better understand how maternal attachment emotions are formed and how they influence monkey behavior. This research may also help experts improve their husbandry techniques and care for monkeys.

The study that causes discussion

It’s called “Triggers for mother’s love” and it’s a study by neuroscientist Margaret Livingstone, conducted at Harvard University and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, journal and official organ of the American National Academy of Sciences. What really got the study off the ground was the reaction of more than 250 scientists, who signed a letter to PNAS asking for a retraction. In turn, animal rights activists recalled Livingstone’s earlier work, which involved temporarily suturing the eyelids of newborn monkeys to study the effect on their cognition.

To complement his experiment, Livingston conducted studies of female macaques that were separated from their newborns and lightly sedated to recover from the trauma. During this time, she placed a toy or two near them to test their mother’s behavior . Disadvantaged children were hand reared to examine the effects of impaired early visual experience on cognitive development . 

The research, its motivation and above all the care of mothers and children has sparked a strong debate among scientists and has revived the ethical debate on animal experiments . In a statement from Harvard Medical School, the research:


it can help researchers understand human maternal bonds and guide adaptive measures to help women cope with loss soon after a miscarriage or stillbirth.


There has been a strong response from the scientific community, particularly animal behaviorists and primate researchers such as Alan McElligott of the City University of Hong Kong’s Center for Animal Health, who signed off on a letter to PNAS. These protests have been joined by groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which opposes all forms of animal experimentation.

  • Soft toys instead of newborns to study maternal attachment in monkeys, the research that sparks controversy (


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