Abstract # 2530 Event # 17:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 10:45 AM-10:55 AM: Session 2 (Shell Room) Oral Presentation


INTERACTIONS BETWEEN INDIGENOUS WILDLIFE AND FOUR SPECIES OF ZOO-HOUSED APES IN NORTH AMERICA: PATTERNS OF AGGRESSION AND HUNTING

S. R. Ross, E. V. Lonsdorf and A. N. Holmes
Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
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Wild chimpanzees, and to a lesser degree, bonobos and orangutans, are known to hunt and consume vertebrate prey in their natural habitat. In ex-situ environments, such as zoos with outdoor access, opportunities for such behavior may be present but little is know about the nature and prevalence of these activities in these settings. In this survey-based study, we gathered information on reports of interactions, aggressive and otherwise, between apes housed at accredited North American zoos and the local wildlife that periodically accesses their exhibits. We received surveys from 76 institutions housing chimpanzees, Pan troglodtyes, [n=267], bonobos, Pan paniscus [n=63], gorillas, Gorilla spp. [n=312] and orangutans, Pongo spp. [n=156]. Regular sightings of indigenous wildlife were reported as "regular" (several times per month) in 95% of great ape exhibits. Aggressive interactions (chasing, hunting, killing, consuming) were most commonly reported in exhibits housing chimpanzees [83%] and bonobos [100%] and less common by orangutans [44%] and gorillas [32%]. There was at least one report of consumption for each type of great ape, including gorillas for which this behavior has not been observed in the wild. These similarities and differences in hunting behavior seed a discussion of the use of captive ape behavior patterns as suitable models for rare or hard to observe behaviors in the wild. Furthermore, the prevalence of these wildlife interactions has implications for disease transmission, health and welfare in captive populations of primates.