Development of bed-building behaviors in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Implication for critical period hypothesis and captive management

Abstract

Wild great apes build beds for sleeping by combining tree branches or other vegetation, but the development of this behavior is poorly understood. We investigated the development of bed-building behaviors by conducting complementary cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of captive chimpanzees. In the cross-sectional study, we created an ethogram of behaviors related to bed-building by observing 59 chimpanzees living at the Kumamoto Sanctuary, Kyoto University, and the Kyoto City Zoo. In the longitudinal study, we installed bed-building platforms, provided branches on the platforms on a regular basis, and recorded behaviors of five chimpanzees (including an infant born in 2013) over a 3-year period from February 2015 to February 2018 at the Kyoto City Zoo (total 490.7 h). We found that all the chimpanzees performed some form of bed-building behavior but wild-born chimpanzees possessed more sophisticated techniques than captive-born chimpanzees. We also found that although the offspring of a wild-born female only showed simple techniques at the beginning of the longitudinal study, his repertoire of bed-building behaviors became as complex as that of his mother by the age of five. Our results suggest that improved bed-building behaviors can be supported in captive-born great apes by providing learning opportunities during appropriate stages of development.

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Acknowledgements

The care of the chimpanzees and the present study were supported financially by grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (#13J04636 and #17K17828 to YY, 18H05524 to SH, JSPS-LGP-U04, JSPS core-to-core CCSN) and also by Itochube foundation and Great Ape Information Network. We are grateful to the following people and program for their support of our study: Fumio Ito, Kanae Shimada, Akihiro Mizuno, Ryuichiro Kado, Motoharu Sato, Tomoko Matsusaka and the staff at the Kyoto City Zoo, Yusuke Mori, Toshifumi Udono and the staff at the Kumamoto Sanctuary, Nobuaki Yoshida and Great Ape Information Network. We thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for providing valuable suggestions to improve the previous version of this manuscript.

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All authors contributed to the study. YY, MM, and EN contributed to conception and design. YY, HB, MM, and EN performed material preparation. Data collection and analysis were performed by YY. The first draft of the manuscript was written by YY and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yumi Yamanashi.

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Yamanashi, Y., Bando, H., Matsunaga, M. et al. Development of bed-building behaviors in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Implication for critical period hypothesis and captive management. Primates 61, 639–646 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-020-00839-w

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Keywords

  • Chimpanzee
  • Bed-building
  • Nest
  • Development
  • Zoo
  • Critical period
  • Animal welfare