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Pandemic lockdowns didn’t just impact humans but also their other primate cousins, the Guardian reported.
A new study found that captive primate species, such as gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees, experienced behavioral changes when zoos and safari parks were shuttered in 2020.
Scientists collected behavioral data between April and September 2020 and from November 2020 to January 2021, spanning multiple open and closed periods during the coronavirus pandemic.
They observed that some of the animals would become more solitary and sedentary during the closures, when they couldn’t interact with visitors. Some also exhibited more physical and sexual dominance.
However, this behavior soon changed following the return of visitors.
For example, olive baboons displayed less dominance – both sexually and physically – when visitors came back. They also would approach visitors more frequently than they had approached the ranger’s vehicle when the park was closed.
In another instance, a group of chimpanzees in the zoo would eat more and engage more when the venue reopened.
Researchers couldn’t determine whether the lockdown experiences were positive, negative or neutral for the animals. They provided different assessments as to why the primates changed their behavior when the visitors returned.
Still, they concluded that the findings provide new insights into how visitors can influence the behavior of captive primates.
“Behavioral changes and changes in enclosure use in the presence of visitors highlights the adaptability of zoo species to their environments,” said lead author Ellen Williams. “Provision of environments which enable animals to actively adapt in this manner is really important for their welfare.”