Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Mary Lee Jensvold

Second Committee Member

Megan Matheson

Third Committee Member

Kathleen Barlow


Many studies suggest that zoo visitors are a cause of stress among animals; among primates, visitor presence can lead to an increase in aggressive displays, time spent non-visible to the public, and a decrease in overall activity. This study tested the effectiveness of using species-specific behaviors among a group of captive chimpanzees. There were 2 conditions: a control, and an experimental condition in which visitors were asked to adopt a stooped posture or lean on the railing, and show a chimpanzee play face. The visitors stooped their posture, sat, and leaned on the railing significantly more in the experimental condition than the control condition. By manipulating visitors' behaviors to appear friendlier animal welfare can be improved.