Spiezio C., Vaglio, S., Vandelle C. et al. 2021. Effects of rearing on the behaviour of zoo-housed chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Folia Primatologica 92(2), 91–102.
Early-life experiences may considerably affect the behavioural patterns of adult primates. Particularly, atypical rearing practices might lead to abnormal behaviours and social-sexual deficiencies in captive, adult non-human primates. We conducted behavioural observations of mother-reared (n = 5) and hand-reared (n = 6) adult chimpanzees in a social group at Parco Natura Viva, Italy. We used continuous focal animal sampling to collect behavioural data focusing on individual and social behaviours. We found that all study subjects performed individual and social species-specific behaviours. However, mother-reared chimpanzees performed locomotion and affiliative behaviours significantly more than hand-reared subjects. In addition to these species-typical behaviours, hand-reared chimpanzees showed significantly more abnormal behaviours than mother-reared subjects. Therefore, these findings suggest that hand-rearing could have wide-reaching effects on the behavioural repertoire in adult zoo-housed chimpanzees. Hence, even if sometimes human intervention in rearing may be necessary to ensure the survival of captive infant chimpanzees, our results suggest that zoo-housed chimpanzees might benefit from minimised human-animal interactions and exposure to conspecifics throughout their development. These suggestions should be implemented in regular husbandry practices.