Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) responses to caregiver use of chimpanzee behaviors

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Primate Behavior and Ecology

Publication Date



The relationships between captive primates and their caregivers are critical ones and can affect animal welfare. Friendly relationships can improve quality of life; adversely, agonistic relationships can decrease quality of life. Caregivers in and of themselves should not be stressful to their charges, instead the caregivers' behaviors and the nature of their interactions with captive primates is likely the basis for the stress. One method to promote positive relationships in the captive environment is for caregivers to employ species‐specific behaviors in their interactions with their charges. This study tested the effect of caregivers' use of these behaviors with chimpanzees at The Zoo Northwest Florida in Gulf Breeze. The chimpanzee participants were three males. Data collection occurred during typical interactions between the human participants and the chimpanzees. Some days the caregiver presented chimpanzee behaviors and vocalizations (CB—Chimpanzee Behavior Condition) in the data collection interactions with the chimpanzees. On other days the caregiver presented human behaviors and used speech (HB—Human Behavior Condition) in the interactions with the chimpanzees. The interactions were videotaped. Data coders recorded the behavioral contexts for each chimpanzee as they occurred on the videotape and the time that each context began. Overall they engaged in significantly more friendly behaviors such as play in CB than in HB. They were significantly less interactive in HB than CB. Caregivers should understand and employ species‐specific interactions with chimpanzees to promote friendly interactions and animal welfare.


This article was originally published in Zoo Biology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Zoo Biology


© 2008 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.