Chimpanzees in Captivity
Chimpanzees arouse interest and sympathy in humans. They have been used in biomedical research, exhibited at events, performed in shows, and even presented in films. But all this has a price: their freedom.
Members of the Pan genus stand out for their intelligence and the skills that make them very similar to humans. However, wrongly, for some people, chimpanzees are not more than animals to exploit and they just take advantage of them.
Many zoos in the world have one or more chimpanzees on exhibition, especially the large ones. Famous among people, their exhibits are a must stop for every visitor, who enjoy looking at them.
Chimpanzees need to live according to their natural needs, and the conditions of their area should be as close as possible to those of their natural habitat.
In theory, zoos must meet some requirements to ensure the welfare of animals, such as adequate areas resembling their natural habitat, a fit and balanced diet and timely medical care. Chimpanzees must live there according to the conditions of their natural habitat. Zoo officials say that keeping animals there is a great help in educating kids and adults and giving them the chance to observe some species that they might not see otherwise.
Other people like the idea of having a chimpanzee as a pet. While infants, they are curious and playful and may remember slightly human babies. But this implies separating this newborn from its mother. There are cases of chimpanzees raised in homes of ordinary families, with mother, father, and children. In Africa, several are sold to be kept as exotic pets in villages, mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Even some personalities in the entertainment world have had a chimpanzee as a pet, but this practice of having them as pets means removing them from their habitat, detaching them from their families and reducing one more individual from the wild population to perpetuate the species.
Some chimpanzees are detached from their mothers when they are just infants.
Another controversial issue is the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research. Due to their genetic similarity with humans, they have become a resource in some laboratories for studies of diverse nature, but usually, scientists from these facilities use them as trail subjects to test vaccines against infectious diseases, particularly HIV and hepatitis. At present, most countries prohibit experimentation on chimpanzees, except the United States and Gabon.
Risks of captivity
Chimpanzees are not entirely domesticated animals like dogs and cats. They are wild and, although they can adapt to life in captivity and appear to be completely docile, they maintain their natural instincts. Many people disagree with keeping chimpanzees captive, as this can have negative consequences for both them and people.
One of the most important arguments against the practice of keeping them enclosed is that chimpanzees often come from illegal sources. As poaching is one of the most serious threats to the species, and hunters use chimpanzees to trade them as meat or to sell them as exotic pets. Some are separated from their mothers when they are just newborns which drastically reduce their chances of survival.
Infants sold as pets are lucky if they get a nice place to live, or they may end up in a place where they do not know how to take care of chimpanzees. However, it is natural that when they grow, they acquire more strength and can become aggressive. Some families realize that they can not take care of an adult or elderly chimpanzee, and then send them to animal shelters which means another dramatic change in their life.
Animal abuse goes beyond the lack of care or any slap that the creature might receive. Chimpanzees are very social beings, highly sensitive, prone to stress and, in short, vulnerable to psychological damage. It is a fact that laboratory or captive chimpanzees in unfit places experience suffering, pain, fear and stress. This situation can produce them traumas that last for the rest of their lives, as happens to humans in similar circumstances. Some chimpanzees are born and grow up in captivity, and they do not know freedom.
Chimpanzees are very social beings, highly sensitive, prone to stress and, in short, vulnerable to psychological damage.
Chimpanzees rescued from harsh conditions and kept in confinement are taken to sanctuaries for rehabilitation and a possible release into their natural habitat after healing. Others, snatched from the hands of poachers are monitored, cured if necessary and then released back into the wild. Sanctuaries are areas to take care of animals, and although they are a form of captivity, they exist to help animals that are continuously in danger.
Ideally, no chimpanzee would have to live in captivity. All chimpanzees have a history and a family. They are not objects, they are living beings, who need to live in freedom.
BioExpedition Publishing © 2017.