Ross, S. R., Shender, M. A. 2016. Daily travel distances of zoo-housed chimpanzees and gorillas: Implications for welfare assessments and space requirements. Primates 57(3), 395-401.

The degree to which the relatively smaller area of artificial environments (compared with natural habitats) has measureable effects on the behavior and welfare of captive animals has been debated for many years. While there is little question that these spaces provide far less opportunity for natural ranging behavior and travel, less is known about the degree to which captive animals travel within their environments and what factors influence these travel patterns. We intensively studied the movement of zoo-housed chimpanzees and gorillas using a computer map interface and determined their mean daily travel and found they travelled similar distances each day when restricted to their indoor areas, but when provided additional outdoor space, chimpanzees tended to increase their travel to a greater extent than did gorillas. Both species travelled shorter distances than has been recorded for their wild counterparts, however, when given access to their full indoor–outdoor exhibit; those differences were not as substantive. These findings suggest that while large, complex naturalistic environments might not stimulate comparable species-typical travel patterns in captive apes, larger spaces that include outdoor areas may be better at replicating this behavioral pattern than smaller, indoor areas.

Animal Type