Zoo Chimps' Mental Health Affected by Captivity
Research reveals signs of mental illness, including repetive rocking, self-mutilation and eating feces.
Many chimpanzees housed in zoos show abnormal behavior that suggest mental illness, according to a new PLoS One study.
The documented behaviors, which included self-mutilation, repetitive rocking, and consumption of feces, are symptoms of compromised mental health in humans, and are not seen in wild chimpanzees, the authors say. The study found that even chimps at very well regarded zoos displayed the disturbing behaviors.
"Absolutely abnormal behavior and possible mental health issues are most commonly associated with lab chimps," co-author Nicholas Newton-Fisher told Discovery News. "This is one of the reasons we were surprised to see the levels of abnormal behavior that we did -- in chimpanzees living in good zoos."
"We conclude that the chimpanzee mind might have difficulties dealing with captivity," added Newton-Fisher, a primate behavioral ecologist at the University of Kent's School of Anthropology & Conservation.
Read the rest on Discovery News.
One of the reasons I disregard a great many behavioural research projects using captive primates.
At our population level, we humans too are captives, of our cities, of our jobs, of our marriage contracts, of our borders, etc.
...and of our minds, or beliefs, our biases, our expectations, and our self-esteem. Alas, perhaps there is no escape from these things. Maybe this is what being human is about. Maybe this defines us.
I think free chimps are happier than captive chimps... and captive humans :)
Yes, in scientific terms "happiness" is but a anthropocentric subjective qualifier and not worth mentioning really. It's all about quality of life, versus length of life. Most captive animals live longer than in the wild. Longer life is meaningless too :)