Anthropology. Zoo observation of two types of non-human primate: orang utans and chimpanzees. The first thing that strikes an observer of the orang utan enclosure is that most of the individuals in the group display a preference for being alone or engaging in one to one activity…
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His movement on the ground is fast and fluid, and he leaps along, using hands and feet, and somersaulting as he goes. He looks left and right all the time, as if to scan for predators, and as soon as he reaches a tree trunk he swings up in an arm over arm gesture. His movement from branch to branch is even faster than his ground movement, showing an adaptation to life in the forest canopy. On the ground slightly apart from the tree equipment there is an older female and a younger orang utan who are engaging in what looks like affectionate teasing. This is probably a mother and child, but the younger individual is not a baby. This may be an adolescent. The pair roll about on the grass, and hug each other from time to time as they do so. Communication appears to be by touch, since they do not have much eye contact, and their interaction is mostly silent. The bond between the two is obviously close. At one point the solitary younger male approaches the two and reaches out as if to touch them, but the two ignore him and he distances himself again from them. None of the orang utans take any notice of the human observers on the perimeter of the enclosure. High up on a shelf there is another adult individual sitting in a crouched position. The full face is hidden, and so it is not obvious whether this is a male or female. It is easy to overlook this one because there was little movement and no sound. The orang utan looked down on the pair playing on the grass, but appeared not to be interested in what was going on. It may be that this orang utan was depressed, or simply bored with the same routine. There were several spells when the young male positioned himself at the edge of the enclosure, looking out and turning his back to the other individuals. This appeared to be a deliberate statement of independence from the rest, as if he were imitating the senior sitting up on the high shelf. He did not sustain this pose for long, however, and soon resumed his hyper-active swinging, grasping the suspended toys, and running along the ground. The key activities viewed were therefore play (both solo and in a mother/child pair) and observation of each other and the surrounding area. There was plenty of independent activity, but only the mother and child had any real close interaction with each other. This suggests that orang utans are fairly solitary creatures outside the mother/child unit. There is evidence of group awareness but it appears not to be the main concern of the orang utans observed. The chimpanzee group is much more vocal and there is a lot of interaction between individuals, with groups forming and dissolving all the time. There is also a larger number present, with at least 12 individuals moving around in a steady walk on their hands and feet. From time to time there is some screeching from one or two individuals, and the rest appear to be uneasy when they hear this. The screeches are made with bared teeth and agitated movements. The other chimpanzees look at the screeching chimpanzee and then look away again, sometimes making lip movements and raising eyebrows. Some chimpanzeess get up and move out of the way when an agitated individual approaches them. Many individuals sit for a time on the grass, picking items up and looking at them which suggests a foraging instinct. They do not appear to be eating what they find. It is not always evident which are males and which are females, especially in the younger individuals. There is one
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