Zoo chimps not enjoying their gilded cage  »

A new study
from the University of Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation is saying zoo environments may cause behavior indicative of mental illness in chimpanzees. That’s kind of a lot of run around, I know, but they really aren’t pulling any punches:

Some abnormal behaviours persist despite interventions to ‘naturalise’ the captive conditions and we suggest that captivity itself may be fundamental as a causal factor in the presence of persistent, low-level, abnormal behaviour (and potentially more extreme levels in some individuals). The cognitive and behavioural challenges in captivity are fewer than in the wild—stressful and dangerous place that it may be—and many normal behaviours and normal development are precluded. While extreme levels of abnormal behaviour may be explicable by individuals’ particular histories, the pattern of low-level, pervasive abnormal behaviour shown by this study suggests that chimpanzee minds struggle to cope with conditions of captivity, despite the best efforts of those charged with their care.

So they are like, captivity could be fundamentally damaging no matter how great the zoo is. Well, that’s a development. Even if we pretend the majority of zoos aren’t total crap-holes, they are saying captivity itself is bad. That’s major. The study mentions lots of things zoos do to try and enrich the lives of their chimpanzees, like mix up their meal schedule and make them pretend-gather their food (yawn), but it doesn’t matter. The chimps are going stir-crazy.

They* are always bragging about how much longer animals live in captivity than the wild and it’s like, yeah they live extra-long crappy lives—it’s like The Matrix! They are safe but they aren’t alive!

Next time someone tries to tell you how captivity is not so bad and that some zoo is treating its chimps so well, you tell them, “It doesn’t matter, bucko!** Zoos are total bullshit!” Now, let’s get these animals to sanctuaries and stop taking new ones from the wild. Free the chimps!

*You know how they are.
**People like when you call them bucko. I know this, I was an anthropology major.

[Picture by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock]

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