Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chimps Raised As Pets And Performers Suffer Long-Term Social Handicaps, Study

It goes without saying that a chimpanzee raised to interact with humans will act differently than other chimps. But according to new research, those effects can last for decades after a chimp is moved to a healthy sanctuary — and being the pet of a loving family (which is legal in most states) could actually be worse for the animals than working as performers.

In a new study published in PeerJ, researchers at the Lincoln Park Zoo attempt to move beyond categorizing chimps as either "human reared" or "mother reared." Instead, they looked at a full spectrum of chimp vs. human interaction. On one end of the spectrum, chimps were completely isolated from members of their own species for the first four years of life, living instead with humans. On the other, they had little or no interaction with humans.

It wasn't all bad news: Surprisingly, the researchers didn't find increased aggression or anxiety in the chimps towards the human end of the spectrum. But they saw big differences in social grooming behavior (that is, where chimps groom each other), which scientists believe to be of incredible importance in chimpanzee communities.

Full story here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Indian Villagers Shave Their Heads To Mourn Dead Monkey

The macaque drowned when it fell into a pond after being chased by dogs.

Afraid that its death may bring them bad luck, the villagers held a funeral procession and cremated the animal according to Hindu rituals. Another 700 villagers shaved their beards off.

Monkeys are considered sacred by Hindus and there are temples dedicated to monkey god Hanuman across India.

Hanuman is generally depicted with a human body, a red monkey's face and a tail and his followers believe that worshipping him will liberate them from fear and danger.

The dead monkey was one of a pair that lived near a small Hanuman temple in Dakachya village in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, village resident Mithun Patel said.

It drowned on 2 September and its body was discovered by the villagers the next day.

"The village elders said a monkey dying inside the village is very inauspicious. We were afraid it might bring us bad luck, a natural calamity," Mr Patel said.

"So we decided to propitiate the monkey's soul to ensure nothing untoward happened in our village."

After the monkey was cremated, the local men shaved their heads and beards as a sign of mourning.

Full story here.

Lethal Violence in Chimps Occurs Naturally, Study Suggests

Are chimpanzees naturally violent to one another, or has the intrusion of humans into their environment made them aggressive?

A study published Wednesday in Nature is setting off a new round of debate on the issue.

The study’s authors argue that a review of all known cases of when chimpanzees or bonobos in Africa killed members of their own species shows that violence is a natural part of chimpanzee behavior and not a result of actions by humans that push chimpanzee aggression to lethal attacks. The researchers say their analysis supports the idea that warlike violence in chimpanzees is a natural behavior that evolved because it could provide more resources or territory to the killers, at little risk.

But critics say the data shows no such thing, largely because the measures of human impact on chimpanzees are inadequate.

While the study is about chimpanzees, it is also the latest salvo in a long argument about the nature of violence in people.

Full story here.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

India monkey showers people with stolen banknotes in Shimla

A monkey in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has rained down banknotes on people, reports say.

Surprised holidaymakers in the scenic pine forest of Shimla, the state capital, ran around, collecting the falling notes for nearly an hour on Sunday, eyewitnesses said.

Reports said the simian stole 10,000 rupees ($165; £100) from a nearby home.

The monkey had entered the house to look for food, but when it did not find anything to eat, it took the money.

Full story here.