Chimpanzee separated from their moms as babies and raised away from them by humans (whether as pets of performers) are more likely to develop behavioral and social problems, according to the findings of a study published in the journal PeerJ. The first four years in the life of a chimpanzee greatly influence his behavioral pattern as an adult as suggested by the latest study.
Though the immediate effects of raising a baby chimpanzee away from their mothers have already been studied, little is known about the long term consequences of this.
In a study that lasted over 14 months, scientists at the Lincoln Park, Chicago studied the behavior of 60 chimpanzees who were all living in different zoos before coming to this conclusion. 35 of the chimps thus studied were former pets or performers.
Chimps raised by humans and separated from their moms as babies are not as adept at fitting in with their peer group. Chimps that grew up with more humans than members of their own species around them were found to be more aggressive in general and not as likely to form very strong social bonds with members of their own species.
“Chimpanzees which have found new homes in accredited zoos and good sanctuaries continue to demonstrate behavioral patterns that differentiate themselves from more appropriately-reared individuals”, said Ross. Adding to it, Ross said that as a result, the procedure of integrating them with other chimpanzees can be challenging, worrying and even unsafe.
The behavioral anomalies thus acquired by the chimps can last for decades even if they are moved to healthy sanctuaries and kept with other chimpanzees.
Though it is legal to have pet chimpanzees in the US, the findings of this study are a clear indicator of the fact that they can be a serious threat to human safety.
Not surprisingly, more than 30 primates which were hitherto being looked after by humans have been shifted to safer habitats as a result of the efforts and awareness campaign launched by Ross and his team.
Here is a gory video of a woman being mauled by her friend’s chimpanzee in Connecticut.