, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 211-216

Infant kidnapping among group-living rhesus macaques: Why don't mothers rescue their infants?

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Abstract

Observations of infant kidnapping among group-living rhesus macaques and anecdotal evidence in the literature indicate that monkey mothers do not attempt to forcibly retrieve their infants from kidnappers even though kidnapping may have potentially fatal consequences for the infant. Based on the available evidence, the potential risk of injury to the mother and/or the infant in case of precipitated conflict with the kidnapper may conceivably account for the lack of maternal intervention during kidnapping. Although this hypothesis requires further testing, maternal refrainment from intervention seems to be a maladaptive response in cases of long-lasting kidnappings by nonlactating females because the infant's life is at stake and the cost of the loss of an infant is presumably higher than the potential risk of injury in a fight.