Abstract # 156:

Scheduled for Sunday, August 27, 2017 10:00 AM-10:15 AM: (National Ballroom Salon A) Oral Presentation


B. K. Hansen1,2, S. R. Ross1, L. M. Hopper1 and A. L. Fultz2
1Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA, 2Chimp Haven, Keithville, LA
     Sanctuaries are typically closed to the public, but at times resident animals may be exposed to unfamiliar visitors (e.g. during donor tours or education programs). While zoos report mixed findings regarding effects of visitors on chimpanzee behavior, effects in sanctuaries remain largely unexplored. Such information can help sanctuaries weigh potential benefits and challenges of public programs. We observed four groups of adult chimpanzees (N=50, 23 females) housed at Chimp Haven for 110 hours over one year. Observations occurred either with no visitors present or during regularly scheduled public programs. As chimpanzees were more likely to receive food when visitors were present (GLM, F=25.953, p<0.001), we investigated the relative influence of food provisioning and visitor presence on behavioral changes. In the presence of visitors, chimpanzees spent more time outdoors (in view of unfamiliar people) (GLM, F=20.164, p<0.001). In addition, chimpanzees increased time spent feeding (GLM, F=13.904, p<0.001) and moving (GLM, F=5.784, p=0.018). Receipt of food best explained outdoor enclosure usage and feeding behavior, while locomotion was best explained by presence of unfamiliar people. These results suggest that while sanctuary chimpanzees may behave differently when visitors are present, food provisioning during these times can confound this relationship. Sanctuaries should take care in interpreting changes in residents’ behavior during public programs that could potentially be explained by indirect influences (e.g. provisioning of food and enrichment).