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Title: The effect of visitors on the behaviour of zoo-housed chimpanzee and gorilla groups
Author: Cooper, Tara Claire
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 7279
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis aimed to document the behavioural response of zoo-housed chimpanzee and gorilla groups, in Belfast Zoological Gardens, N. Ireland, to visitors. This aim was important, in light of previous research in the area that suggests animals, particularly primates, show behaviour indicative of anxiety in the presence of zoo visitors. However, there is little evidence to suggest that this finding can be extended to how chimpanzees and gorillas respond. Additionally, although in general evidence is in favour of a 'zoo visitors as a form of stress' hypothesis, there is support for two alternative hypotheses. Specifically, a few studies have revealed that zoo animals may behave with behaviour indicative of enrichment, while there is other support for a habituation hypothesis, that is, zoo visitors are of no consequence to the animals. Thus, this thesis developed appropriate ethograms for the two study species (chimpanzees and gorillas) and used them to document the behaviour of these animals during differing periods of visitor density. Opportunistic data collection was coupled with experimental manipulation to investigate behavioural changes in chimpanzees and gorillas in response to visitors. The results suggested that both groups responded to the presence of visitors, and subsequently ruled out a 'habituation to visitors' hypothesis. However, in general the thesis found that chimpanzees and gorillas differed in their response. Chimpanzees tended to show behaviour indicative of enrichment whereas gorillas exhibited behaviour indicative of stress. Although these results were in general supported throughout each experiment conducted in the thesis, more research is undoubtedly required to investigate how other primates, indeed animals how other animals, respond to visitors both at this zoo and others.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available