Taming the Wild

In the world today, there is a growing trend of holding wild animal captives and depositing them in domesticated environments such as the zoos and safaris for the viewing pleasure of the general public. The adverse change from the wild to a more domesticated environment has altered the natural behavior of such wild animals. It has also altered their reaction and susceptibility to us that deviate from their natural behavioral pattern. In particular, chimpanzees also known as Pan Troglodytes have been selected as a study of how the zoo environment especially the presence of human visitors has affected their behavioral pattern.

In Groffrey R. Hosey’s article on Applied Animal Behavior Science, research results have highlighted a growing trend in chimpanzee’s aggression towards humans that stems from their interaction. When placed in a new environment, the reaction of chimpanzees vary (Chamove et al., 1988) which could result in either amicable or hostile reception of humans.

In most cases, the unfamiliarity of chimpanzees towards humans increases stress and confusion (Hosey, 2000). This can be seen in the increase in visitor aggression of the human visitors as their default defence. It is also argued in Hosey’s article that this reaction could be sparked by seeing humans as an “unfamiliar species rather than as potential predators or competitors”. Hence, it is safe to assume that this is a behavioural pattern that primarily exists when the chimpanzees are placed in a new environment.

This understanding of chimpanzees’ amicable behavior are explained in a scholarly journal by S. Cook and G.R. Hosey based their study on the interaction sequences between chimpanzees and human visitors at the zoo. It was identified that through research and observations done on visitor interactions with chimpanzees, they are both motivated to interact with one another and that the chimpanzees do this primarily to obtain food. As chimpanzees are social creatures (Goodall, 1986; Nishida, 1970), “Their willingness to interact with human observers may be a consequence of seeking social stimulation as much as it is food motivated”.

In conclusion, it is safe to assume that the hostility in chimpanzees’ receptiveness to human visitors in zoo environments are temporal and will improve with time.



1.  A.S. Chamove. , G.R. Hosey, , & P. Schaetzel (1988).Visitors excite primates in zoos. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/science/article/pii/S0168159104001893

2. G.R. Hosey. (2000). Zoo animals and their human audiences: what is the visitor effect?. Retrieved from http://www-scopus-com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-0000067617&origin=inward&txGid=DBF53E4635D291BA2D91A8CBFDA22CA5.WlW7NKKC52nnQNxjqAQrlA:1

3. S. Cook. , & G.R. Hosey (1995). Interaction sequences between chimpanzees and human visitors at the zoo. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/store/10.1002/zoo.1430140505/asset/1430140505_ftp.pdf?v=1&t=hfcd1bbv&s=9b52136e65266409005f66f71f2fa7b1950933bf