Music for Monkeys: Building Methods to Design with White-Faced Sakis for Animal-Driven Audio Enrichment Devices
Department of Computer Science, Aalto University, 02150 Espoo, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 July 2020
Revised: 20 August 2020
Accepted: 23 September 2020
Published: 30 September 2020
Animals living in captivity can benefit from new forms of technological enrichment, with auditory enrichment currently being underutilized. Here, we investigate how to provide zoo-housed white-faced saki monkeys with auditory enrichment in an animal-centred manner. To study this, we prototyped and developed an interactive system that the sakis could trigger to play audio and that tracked their interactions with the device. Importantly, we incorporated this system into the regular living environment of the sakis and developed the interaction in a way that gave them control over activating the sounds. Based on the results, we conclude that audio is a promising way to provide enrichment for small primates like sakis. Utilising our device, we demonstrate that the sakis triggered the traffic audio more than silence, rain, zen, and electronic music, with no differences between the other conditions. However, we highlight problems in using this behaviour to infer the sakis preference or how they like the system, with further research needed towards sounds for audio enrichment. Our method reveals the value of collecting early real-world data and prototyping when designing interactive technologies for zoo-housed animals. In this experiment, we found that animal-centred methods can help create technologies better suited to their purpose and ultimately towards the end-goal of improving animal welfare.