- Zoo-housed chimpanzees show abnormal behaviors not witnessed in wild chimp populations, according to new research.
- The behaviors, such as rocking back and forth and pulling out hair, could be symptomatic of mental illness.
Many chimpanzees housed in zoos show abnormal behavior that suggest mental illness, according to a new PLoS One study.
The documented behaviors, which included self-mutilation, repetitive rocking, and consumption of feces, are symptoms of compromised mental health in humans, and are not seen in wild chimpanzees, the authors say. The study found that even chimps at very well regarded zoos displayed the disturbing behaviors.
"Absolutely abnormal behavior and possible mental health issues are most commonly associated with lab chimps," co-author Nicholas Newton-Fisher told Discovery News. "This is one of the reasons we were surprised to see the levels of abnormal behavior that we did -- in chimpanzees living in good zoos."
"We conclude that the chimpanzee mind might have difficulties dealing with captivity," added Newton-Fisher, a primate behavioral ecologist at the University of Kent's School of Anthropology & Conservation.