"Retired" entertainment chimps: a very real problem

Thursday, June 24, 2010 - 3:35pm

If you're a frequent visitor to our website or belong to our online community*, you may have heard us explain that entertainment chimpanzees generally can't be retired to zoos, because they haven't learned chimpanzee social skills and therefore don't fit in easily with established chimpanzee groups.

The Kendall Project's website offers a rare look at the problem. It tracks the efforts of keepers at the North Carolina Zoo to integrate a former entertainment chimpanzee named Kendall into a group, and describes setbacks such as this:

"Chimps that are the focus of an aggressive attack often deflect that aggression by turning on weaker, more subordinate individuals. In turn, most socially appropriate chimps faced with this situation would either submit to the others or attempt to defend themselves. This appeared to have happened to Kendall before keepers reported to work on October 31, 2009. Most likely two or three chimps in the group began fighting, and one or more individuals turned on Kendall to take the pressure off themselves."

Kendall was not seriously hurt, but was removed from the group, according to the blogg. You read more about Kendall's history at the zoo here.

*You can join our online community where it says "subscribe" in the upper right forner of home page, here.

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