The Integration of Male Chimpanzees into an Existing Captive Troop
Glenelg High School
Carey Ricciardone, Area Manager of the Chimpanzee Forest
Julie Grove, Animal Behavior and Training Coordinator
Peter Martin, School Programs Manager
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Thank you for visiting my Intern-Mentor Program portfolio.
I am a junior at Glenelg High School, and this is my third year conducting research at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. I was in Independent Research the past two years.
My project involves researching the troop of chimpanzees at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Last year in Independent Research, I began studying the chimpanzees and researched a wide range of factors that influence chimpanzee behavior. This year, I had a narrower project focus. Two new chimpanzees, Jack and Louie, came to the Zoo in the summer of 2010. They came from the entertainment industry, so their upbringing was not typical. Chimpanzees like Jack and Louie cannot always be successfully integrated into existing chimpanzee troops because being raised by humans can preclude the development of the social skills needed to live in a group. I researched the introduction of Jack and Louie to the existing group of nine chimpanzees and investigated the effects that their background with humans may have had upon their ability to join the existing group. Since chimpanzees like Jack and Louie often are not accepted at institutions with existing chimpanzee troops, they often must live solitarily or in other poor conditions after they retire.
I found that Jack and Louie were integrated very well into the troop. Despite their abnormal background, they behaved very similiarly to Kasoje, the original male who was at the Zoo. Kasoje was affected more than the female chimpanzees because there were dominance-related interactions among the males. Kasoje emerged as the alpha male. He stayed on the track to becoming the most dominant chimp, which would have occurred if Jack and Louie had not arrived because Kasoje was the only male in the original troop. My project documented a success story for chimpanzees from the entertainment business and provided an example of how these chimpanzees can sometimes join existing groups and have fairly normal lives.
I went to the Zoo and collected observational data on the chimpanzees throughout the fall and winter. I obtained 54 hours of data this year. My research paper documents my findings and is under the "Thesis Paper" tab.
I am now finished with my work at the Zoo, and I am looking into possibilities for projects for next year.