Abstract # 25:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2012 04:45 PM-05:00 PM: Session 6 (Magnolia) Oral Presentation


HUMAN-ANIMAL RELATIONSHIPS: ZOO-HOUSED GREAT APES USE HUMAN FAMILIARITY TO GUIDE INTERACTIONS WITH HUMANS

J. J. Smith
York University, Department of Psychology, Behavioural Sciences Building, Room 101, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
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     Social relationships guide humans’ and great apes’ behaviors with conspecifics. Inter-individual relationships, based on shared social history, guide behaviors with familiar others; “generalized” relationships, based on the history of interactions with relevant classes of individuals, may guide behavior with unfamiliar others. On that basis, Hosey (2008) proposed that different human-animal relationships (HARs) guide zoo primates’ behaviors with familiar and unfamiliar humans. HARs are characterized as positive, neutral, or negative based on individual primates’ confidence, indifference, or fear with humans and their acceptance, ignoring, or avoidance human proximity and contact. I conducted the first systematic analysis of HARs with orangutans (Pongo abelii) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at Toronto Zoo, Toronto, Canada by studying ape-initiated human-directed behaviors (HDBs). MANOVAs showed that human familiarity, ape age, and ape species each independently predicted affiliative HDBs (aHDBs). aHDB rates and durations were significantly higher for familiar versus unfamiliar humans [Pillai’s Trace = 0.69, F (3,18) = 13.32, p<0.01], immature versus adult apes [Pillai’s Trace = 0.50, F (3,18) = 5.90, p=0.01], and orangutans versus gorillas [Pillai’s Trace = 0.45, F (3,18) = 4.85, p=0.01]. aHDB patterns suggest that apes used human familiarity to guide ape-human interactions, were consistent with positive and neutral/negative HARs with familiar and unfamiliar humans respectively, and suggest that negative, stressful interactions typically reported in visitor effect studies represent only one aspect of zoo ape-human interaction.