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When Is “Natural” Better? The Welfare Implications of Limiting Reproduction in Captive Chimpanzees

When Is “Natural” Better? The Welfare Implications of Limiting Reproduction in Captive Chimpanzees

Chapter:
(p.509) 22 When Is “Natural” Better? The Welfare Implications of Limiting Reproduction in Captive Chimpanzees
Source:
Chimpanzees in Context
Author(s):
Katherine A. CroninStephen R. Ross
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226728032.003.0022

Minimizing the mismatch between wild conditions and captive conditions is widely thought to be a powerful strategy to promote positive animal welfare. This chapter explores the potential relationships between “natural” environments and animal welfare in theory, and then focuses on whether creating an “unnatural” environment, by limiting reproduction in chimpanzees, has a measurable impact on one behavioral indicator of welfare. Of interest was whether the presence or absence of young chimpanzees in social groups was associated with differences in the prevalence of abnormal behaviors. Survey data for 207 individuals living in 26 different accredited facilities was used to assess the prevalence of abnormal behaviors and were analyzed using generalized linear mixed models that also considered origin, sex and rearing. Results indicated that the presence of young was not predictive of abnormal behavior in this population. When considered alongside the results of a previous study of sanctuary-housed chimpanzees, there seems no clear behavioral evidence to suggest that the presence of young in a social group is associated with better animal welfare. This discussion of the value of “natural” and “unnatural” environments will hopefully spark additional research into the complex question of how managing reproduction impacts the welfare of captive chimpanzees.

Keywords:   animal welfare, breeding, chimpanzees, reproduction, abnormal behavior, zoo

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