Baboons had more sex when zoos were closed during lockdown, study shows

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Baboons had more sex when zoos and safari parks were closed during lockdown, a study revealed.

The animal also portrayed more dominating behaviours without the presence of humans and a new study observed how the behaviour of bonobos, chimpanzees, and western lowland gorillas changed as lockdown rules eased.

The study showed that the increased sexual behaviour of olive baboons during closure may have occurred due to the lack of stimulation of moving vehicles consistently roaming.

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The likes of chimpanzees ate more and engaged more with their enclosures when the zoo was open, while gorillas spent less time resting, researchers found.

Dr Samantha Ward, from Nottingham Trent University, said: "Primates are some of the most cognitively advanced species in zoos and their interactions with visitors are complex.

"A limitation to understanding how visitors can affect behaviour of animals in zoos and parks is that they rarely close to the public for prolonged periods, so this provided us with a unique opportunity."

Behavioural data for the study was collected throughout open and closure period during the pandemic.

According to the scientists, it can be difficult to definitively state whether specific changes in behaviour for animals are positive or negative.

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However, in this study, the chimpanzees and baboons appeared to enjoy the presence of visitors when they returned.

Dr Ellen Williams, a zoo animal welfare researcher at Harper Adams University, said: "Our study showed the varied ways in which visitors can influence the behaviour of primates in captivity.

"Behavioural changes and changes in enclosure use in the presence of visitors highlights the adaptability of zoo species to their environments.

"Provision of environments which enable animals to actively adapt in this manner is really important for their welfare.'


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