Observation Paper

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Observation on Chimpanzees and Human Behavior

On October 28th, I made a visit to the Los Angeles Zoo to observe the behavioral differences between female and male chimpanzees. My observation includes, but is not limited to: behavioral differences within a gender group, female and male interaction, male aggression, as well as mating, and abnormal behaviors,. There were about 13 chimpanzees. Five females, out of the 13 total, were in a separate area called the penthouse. The remanding chimps 8 were in the main exhibit.

The five female chimpanzees that were in the penthouse were rather inactive. Most of the females were asleep with the exception of two. However, one of the younger chimpanzees soon followed. She first sat awake will two other laid sleeping by the stairs. She would travel back in forth from where she was originally sitting to the tire swing. After a while she finally settled on the tire swing and covered herself with a yellow blanket. She would remain the only secluded from the other four.

But she wasn’t the only one that was awake. The much older one of the group was awake for almost an hour and half after everyone else had gone to sleep. She did some minor traveling from upstairs to downstairs but eventually settled downstairs with the rest of the group, and remained idle for most of the time. There were moments of idiosyncratic body manipulation. For example, she would stare out into the open space and then begin to poke eyes and pat her head. She also paid attention to the public. She would not move, but she would stare at you and nod her head every once in a while. She would acknowledge your presence.

Due to lack of activity in the penthouse I moved over to main exhibit. There was bit more action in this area. Some chimpanzees were secluded from the rest. Others were in groups of 3. It was interesting to see how those groups would travel from the cave to the upper grassy area in follow of one another. They did this a couple of times. Sometimes it was just for a walk. Others times it was to go play besides the window. On one particular I trip I observed one of the chimps eating feces. He even kissed and smeared it on the window. There was also one other chimp who would always stop to drink water when he would pass by the small river of water.

One observation I would like to point out was that although some of the chimps were in groups they still did not seem as close or united as the females in the den. Upstairs with the all female group they slept together in a tight knit (with the exception of one); per contra, the males, though they traveled together, once they settled in an area they would roam the area on their own or have some space between them if they were sleeping or inactive state.

They were also a lot more aggressive. The females showed no signs of aggression while I was there. They were all pretty neutral and calm. In contrast, the males at times made pant hoots and grunts. There were displays, non-contact aggression, and contact aggression. One of the chimps showed display behavior twice when I was there. He would jump and kick the doors while pant hooting. There was also some contact aggression between the males when they would be dealing with one of the female chimps. It mainly occurred during grooming. One of the female chimps was grooming the alpha male, and (what I believe to be) a smaller ranking male slightly pulled the female’s arm which in turned upset the alpha male. The alpha male began grunting and hooting till the smaller ranking male left the area in which they were in.

There were also signs of aggression when approaching the females for mating. In one instance, a low ranking male grabs a female by the neck and begins copulating. This occurred during feeding. The way he grabbed her was very forceful. It was not solicit sex nor did she present. There was no touch or embrace between male and female. On a second occasion a male chased a female (all while hooting) when...
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