Abstract # 4424 Poster # 83:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 20, 2013 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 9 (SG Foyer ABC) Poster Presentation


L. M. Hopper1, K. E. Bonnie1,2, L. M. Kurtycz1 and S. R. Ross1
1Lincoln Park Zoo, Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study & Conservation of Apes, Chicago, IL 60614, USA, 2Department of Psychology, Beloit College, WI 53511, USA
     Conducting research in a zoo setting allows for direct science communication with the public. To take advantage of this opportunity, we conduct chimpanzee social cognition research ‘on exhibit’ at Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago. As part of an on-going study, six chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are given the opportunity to trade PVC tokens with researchers in exchange for food rewards. The chimpanzees are provisioned with 100 tokens each session and can exchange them at one of two locations ('easy' or 'hard') within their exhibit. The easy location is adjacent to where chimpanzees collect tokens while the hard location is 10m away (shortest possible travel distance). To assess cost-benefit decision-making, for each token exchanged at the easy location, chimpanzees receive low-value carrot pieces while if they travel to the hard location they receive high-value grapes. Without prior exchange training, a subordinate male discovered this novel behavior and traded tokens with a researcher at the easy location. Following his discovery, his group mates also started exchanging. We discuss our preliminary data, which reveal the interplay between innovation, social learning, and the chimpanzees’ cost-benefit choices, as well as our education program which interprets the importance of such research to our zoo guests. Through such outreach, we can both inform the public about the scientific process, and also directly demonstrate social and cognitive aspects of chimpanzee behavior.