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.

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