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recent Great Ape Handling

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by dunstbunny, 20 Jun 2016.

  1. dunstbunny

    dunstbunny Well-Known Member

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    (of course, triggered by Harambe's death)

    I was pondering about how we treat Great Apes (thanx to Willard for supplying me with news-clippings while I was off computer).

    taking in consideration:
    50s and before: no understanding of behaviour and needs, mini-cages
    60s: trying to humanize, language (wrong approach!!!), pharmaceutical guinea pigs
    70-80s: slow understanding of their mindset [check the women-triad], still pharmaceutical guinea pigs
    90s onwards: better exhibitions, better food, etc ..trying to get them off labs/ circuses/ film-industry

    (as well, you have to take in consideration the thread-initiators personal opinion: we are not the prime of creation, humans are not an endangered species!)

    _________________


    IMHO, keeping of Great Apes in Zoos is prone to get (or already is) problematic!

    - the ones in zoos, and especially the zoo-borns, are not fit to be set into the wild!
    - the trend in the new millenium goes to hands-off policy (=bad!!)
    - insurance policies for workers are bad for apes!

    ______________

    I don't know how it is for other countries, but in Germany work-insurance gets massively in the way of great ape needs!
    We desperately need to find a compromise between work-insurance and ape-habituation in zoos.

    Going back to earlier days: handling was more spontaneous, no insurance/law/health policies = apes were habituated to keepers = less stress if an ape wandered out of the exhibition!


    I always use the example of a soldier: if you sign up for the army, you are well aware you could die, or come back without a few limbs. You know that before you sign up!

    If you are a keeper of "dangerous" animals, why aren't the prerequisites the same?
    You only would sign up, if you are dedicated enough, and you are aware of the consequences!

    ___________________

    There are a few zoos that are trying to get apes back into the wild.
    I admire the idea, but unless the situation in the countries, native to great apes, changes, I have not much hope.

    Will say,
    we have to integrate Great Apes into our lives. Or, adapt their needs to our handling.

    - talk to them, talk until there's no tomorrow, they are intelligent enough to understand, even if they can't reply
    - yes, hug them, even if it means broken ribs to you! And tell them about your broken ribs! They are intelligent enough to understand that humans are fragile!
    - let them see the zoo, when no visitors are around! They will find their way back home (= to safety) better, if they know where they are!

    My personal favourites are Gorillas, and I can f.ex. -among other things- already see a new generation of gorilla-dads! They don't have the plight of getting the troup safe, so they can dedicate a bunch of their time to play-educating of toddlers, more than in nature. Will say, apes can learn!

    They can learn that, if in the ape-house, different rules apply than if they walk around in the "human parts" of the zoo!
     
  2. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    "Hey, Bill, have you seen the chimps around lately?"

    "Nah, last I saw they were in with the flamingos having an early morning snack"

    "Oh crap, they weren't there when I walked by 5 minutes ago."

    "Huh, I guess they climbed the barrier fence again, I guess we should go walk them back to the zoo before they break into the preschool next door again."

    "No can do mate, still have 3 broken ribs from last week, you and Tracy will have to do it, she's on the flamingo routine so not like she's busy today anyway."

    "Good to know, we'll get started on the recovery shortly!"
     
    Last edited: 20 Jun 2016
  3. HorseChild

    HorseChild Active Member

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    dunstbunny, have you ever actually worked great apes?

    Are you saying that keepers should work free contact with them? How will this prepare them for life in the wild, especially if they are not raised in their native country?

    Also, how will you "tell" a gorilla about your broken ribs from hugging them? Yes, they may understand that humans are fragile. What will keep them from hurting humans in the future?
     
  4. dunstbunny

    dunstbunny Well-Known Member

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    @ Hyak: LOL, funny, very over the top, but actually that would be nice ... unless flamingos are endangered? (pre-schoolers are definitely not!)

    but seriously,

    @ HorseChild:

    I did not want to say that keepers should work in totally free contact with gorillas (nor lions, alligators etc for that matter). There is a reason these animals do not live in the petting zoo, but keepers -aka people who know their wards- should be allowed to go near the apes they deem fit for keeper contact.***

    And I certainly didn't want to say that zoo-gorillas should be sent into the wild.
    I am pro good zoos, also I am for saving the natural environment for those born free.

    Seems I was a bit confusing.... and maybe I still am, but that is why I want to discuss it! I do not have all the facts but maybe one of you has!

    There are many zoos with great apes who were kept in the "old ways", and I mean half-contact, and where it's still possible that a keeper can go into the room -surely not with the entire group present!- but with one or two apes inside and can shoo them out "hey mate, move, I have to clean up a bit"
    This is vanishing step by step, and I regret that.

    Apes are dangerous when they are afraid (for people and themselves)*, so the aim should be that we train them for as much scenarios, different from sitting at home and eating, as we can.
    Unfortunately you cannot train the unwashed masses**, but maybe you can somehow train the apes, if the public is screaming and getting upset, they need quietly go indoors?

    Zoo Apes cannot be sent into the wild, so we should accept they have different needs and have to cope with a different environment than wild apes.
    Why do we always proudly emphasize that great apes have the intelligence of a 5yr old child, if we don't expect as much from them as from a 5yr old child? (well, at least when I, a European child, was 5.... nowadays parents are very different)


    * of course I was sad when they shot the Orang who was about to climb onto the motorway, but it was okay for me because it was a clean death for the Orang instead of getting horribly smashed between cars! (no, I was not thinking about possibly traumatized automobilists. Not an endangered species)

    ** apparently I cannot even train my own mom. I am still shocked that she recently rapped on the glass and told me "the gorilla doesn't react" *facepalm*

    *** Close-contact animals in my life were horses, and I was always careful, totally aware that they are much stronger than me! Still, during the years broken ribs, arms, toes happened and black marks all over my body, and nobody blamed any of us, and none of the horses was shot.
    Concussion: Dad shrugged "Horses are strong, you take care next time"
    Poney bit my boob (yes!): subject of jokes for ages in the stables ...

    Why do we treat animals so differently? if it's a horse it's my fault, if it's an ape it's their fault??
     
  5. taun

    taun Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure what this hole thread is about but this bit is rubbish.

    Zoo gorillas have been returned to the wild, yes there has been some deaths but you cannot call it a failure or a success just yet but they been returned.

    In a few more years if they have bred and are still surviving then I think will can say they can be released back to the wild. Its still early days and nothing has been proved yet.
     
  6. dunstbunny

    dunstbunny Well-Known Member

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    yes, it's rubbish, if you read the discussion as about returning zoo apes to the wild.

    The problem I have is the treatment of apes who can NOT released to the wild!

    The ones who are bred for releasing have to be treatred compleatly different, and it's extremely difficult to prepare them!
     
  7. taun

    taun Well-Known Member

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    But the hand reared orphans that the Aspinall foundation have released back into the wild begs to differ.

    What ones are being bred for release? I know of no zoos doing this? :confused:
     
  8. dunstbunny

    dunstbunny Well-Known Member

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    okay, I know English is not my native tongue, and therefore I do not see what in my posts make you think I am talking about training apes for release?
    (yes, in a very distant future, when everything is alright in their African habitats there might be chance to do so on a regular basis)

    What I want to discuss is the actual situation of apes in zoos:

    - Great apes can be trained for medical situations.
    - Great apes can be trained to go into shipping containers without being tranquillized.
    - Great apes were trained for tea-parties (bad bad!!)

    There are still zoos where keepers go (or used to go) in the exhibition while one or more apes are/were present. (passing over the fact that there are behavioural differences in Gorillas/Chimps/Orangs)

    Why can't great apes not be trained to handle difficult situations?

    f.ex.

    - if the public is too annoying: go inside, or hide behind a bush/ wall/ tree/ your sleeping room ... whatever the exposition provides

    - whatever is thrown from a NOT-Keeper into the exposition is bad = get the apes used to a waste container where everything un-zooish goes in

    - if a NOT-Keeper shows up in your garden, shoo your troup inside!

    and so on.
    _________

    I am only talking about the apes who have to stay in zoos!

    They have to live with us, and we have to live with them, and it's our resposibility to make their lives as good as we can, so none of our wards has to die (except of old age or sickness)!

    like: the people of Zoo Prague have now trained their Gorillas to have meals in the flood tower from time to time, so that they won't see it as something different =dangerous, if there's a flood again.

    I don't know when the impulse-control sets in with humans, but if I could be trained NOT to take sweets from strangers as a toddler, why can't apes?
    If the 5year old me could be trained to call daddy, if something irregular happened in our backyard, why can't apes, too?

    The toddler-me was trained to get help in case I got lost. Apes are good with numbers, so get them trained if they happen outside their exposition to communicate a phone number! Well, first get them trained to realize: this is the ape.home with ape-rules, and this is outside!


    Nothing of this exceeds the brain capacitiy of a small child, so it shouldn't be difficult for apes. Probably training-intensive, but that's not the point.
     
  9. persimon

    persimon Well-Known Member

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    why not training them to clean their own cage, and grow their own food? Or provide them building materials and train them to build their own enclosure?
     
  10. dunstbunny

    dunstbunny Well-Known Member

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    LOL, but some apes do it already! Cleaning, that is. They ape the gestures of the keepers.
    No, I am against apes doing work. If they help because they think it's fun, okay.

    With all my ..let's say unconventional... ideas, I don't want them to have "human" responsabilities. And I have severe doubts that any ape can be taught to grow food, simply because the are too voracious and couldn't wait until greens have reached an energy-providing size. (No impulse control, I know)

    Building their own "enclosure" might be possible, well, at least a simple rain-shelter. Although I would put my bets on the Orangs rather than on Gorillas or Chimps. :))

    Which brings me back to my problem with off-hands: to train them to develop any exceptional skills, from time to time a keeper has to be face to face with an ape!