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Anxiety-related behavior of orphan chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Gombe National Park, Tanzania

Abstract

This study examined the anxiety levels and social interactions of two orphan and four mother-reared adolescent chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the Kasekela community at Gombe National Park, Tanzania. We used focal sampling in the field at Gombe to observe these adolescent individuals. Their social interactions and anxious behavior, measured as rough scratching, were recorded. The two orphans differed from others of a similar age by exhibiting higher levels of anxiety and lower levels of play. These results suggest that a mother’s absence, even in naturalistic conditions in which other members of the community are available to the orphan, may have long-lasting impact on an adolescent’s anxiety and its ability to engage in complex social interactions, such as play.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative (MEHRI), York University in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute, and the Jane Goodall Institute’s Center for Primate Studies (JGICPS), Duke University. We express appreciation to Jane Goodall and to Tanzania National Parks, the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute and the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology for their permission to conduct research at Gombe National Park. We are particularly grateful to S. Shanker and A. Pusey for their support and helpful advice, C. Murray for her assistance in the field, and J. Schumacher-Stankey for assistance at the JGICPS. Also for the helpful comments by Linda Brent and two anonymous reviewers.

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Correspondence to Maria Botero.

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Botero, M., MacDonald, S.E. & Miller, R.S. Anxiety-related behavior of orphan chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Primates 54, 21–26 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-012-0327-1

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Keywords

  • Orphans
  • Chimpanzees
  • Anxiety
  • Play