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(UC Davis) – Getting a monkey to open its mouth for a dental check is no easy task, but a little bit of papaya goes a long way. Trainers at the California National Primate Center (CNPRC) use dried papaya and other treats for positive reinforcement training with the rhesus macaques that reside at the center. Rewarding the animals with treats after they exhibit appropriate actions, such as staying put or moving to where the trainer wants them to go, has shown to have numerous benefits for the animal and staff at the CNPRC.

Human Animal Interactions Coordinator Lindsay Tatum affirms that positive reinforcement training develops healthier relationships between trainer and animal, allows trainers to know animals on a one-on-one basis, and reduces the animals’ stress levels, which produces more accurate research results. Since the majority of primates work well with positive reinforcement training, this training method has proven to be the most effective way to get animals to cooperate. Check out the above video to see how Lindsay trains rhesus macaques at the CNPRC.