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Welfare of apes in captive environments: comments on, and by, a specific group of apes

By S. Savage-Rumbaugh, K. Wamba, P. Wamba, N. Wamba

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Accurately determining the proper captive environment for apes requires adequately assessing the psychological similarities between apes and humans. Scientists currently believe apes lack mental complexity (Millikan, 2006), raising questions concerning the evolution of human culture from ape-like societies (Tomasello, 1999). A long-term cultural study with bonobos suggests less intellectual divergence from humans than currently postulated (Savage-Rumbaugh, 2005). Because humans view apes as mentally limited, some current captive environments may appear idyllic while offering only an illusion of appropriate care, derived from a simplistic view of what apes are, rather than what they might be. This perception of apes determines their handling, which determines their mental development, which perpetuates the prevailing perception. Only breaking this cycle will allow the current perception of apes to change. Their usual captive environment limits any demonstration of culture. However, the bonobo study reveals what ape culture can become, which should affect future welfare considerations for at least those species genetically close to humans (bonobos and chimpanzees). Development of a languaged bonobo culture allows these nonhuman animals to provide their own responses regarding adequate ape welfare.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 10
Issue 1
Pages 7-19
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888700701277261
Language English
Author Address Great Ape Trust of Iowa, 4200 S.E. 44th Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50320,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Chimpanzees
  7. Great ape
  8. Intelligence
  9. Mammals
  10. Mental ability
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. Primates
  13. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed