Is Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Wounding Frequency Affected by the Presence Versus Absence of Visitors? A Multi-Institutional Study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Robin Elana Salak, Christina Cloutier Barbour
Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens
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Visitor effect studies have had inconsistent results, due in part to the inability to control for all confounding variables such as time of day, seasonal weather patterns, and so forth. This study represents the first instance where chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) wounding frequencies were investigated across extensive time periods in the presence and complete absence of visitors, thus eliminating many visitor-related variables. Additional variables were eliminated through the zoo selection process, based on institutional responses to a 29-question survey, providing a novel approach to the question of visitor effects. The aim of this study was to determine if visitors were associated with a change in chimpanzee wound event frequencies across four 51-day time conditions, three of which occurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and one during the first wave of pandemic-related zoo closures. We analyzed the archival records of 21 chimpanzees housed at three U.S. zoos. Due to the small number of wound events across all study windows, frequencies of “no wound” events were analyzed. A chi-square goodness of fit test was performed to determine whether the frequency of “no wound” events was equal between the “open” and “closed” trials. Results indicate that the frequencies did not differ, suggesting that chimpanzee welfare, as it relates to wounding, may not be adversely affected by zoo visitors.


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