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Observation on Chimpanzees and Human Behavior

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On October 28th, I made a visit to the Los Angeles Zoo to observe the behavioral differences between female and male chimpanzees. My observation includes, but is not limited to: behavioral differences within a gender group, female and male interaction, male aggression, as well as mating, and abnormal behaviors,. There were about 13 chimpanzees. Five females, out of the 13 total, were in a separate area called the penthouse. The remanding chimps 8 were in the main exhibit. The five female chimpanzees that were in the penthouse were rather inactive.

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Most of the females were asleep with the exception of two. However, one of the younger chimpanzees soon followed. She first sat awake will two other laid sleeping by the stairs. She would travel back in forth from where she was originally sitting to the tire swing. After a while she finally settled on the tire swing and covered herself with a yellow blanket. She would remain the only secluded from the other four.

But she wasn’t the only one that was awake. The much older one of the group was awake for almost an hour and half after everyone else had gone to sleep.

She did some minor traveling from upstairs to downstairs but eventually settled downstairs with the rest of the group, and remained idle for most of the time. There were moments of idiosyncratic body manipulation. For example, she would stare out into the open space and then begin to poke eyes and pat her head. She also paid attention to the public. She would not move, but she would stare at you and nod her head every once in a while. She would acknowledge your presence. Due to lack of activity in the penthouse I moved over to main exhibit.

There was bit more action in this area. Some chimpanzees were secluded from the rest. Others were in groups of 3. It was interesting to see how those groups would travel from the cave to the upper grassy area in follow of one another. They did this a couple of times. Sometimes it was just for a walk. Others times it was to go play besides the window. On one particular I trip I observed one of the chimps eating feces. He even kissed and smeared it on the window. There was also one other chimp who would always stop to drink water when he would pass by the small river of water.

One observation I would like to point out was that although some of the chimps were in groups they still did not seem as close or united as the females in the den. Upstairs with the all female group they slept together in a tight knit (with the exception of one); per contra, the males, though they traveled together, once they settled in an area they would roam the area on their own or have some space between them if they were sleeping or inactive state. They were also a lot more aggressive. The females showed no signs of aggression while I was there. They were all pretty neutral and calm.

In contrast, the males at times made pant hoots and grunts. There were displays, non-contact aggression, and contact aggression. One of the chimps showed display behavior twice when I was there. He would jump and kick the doors while pant hooting. There was also some contact aggression between the males when they would be dealing with one of the female chimps. It mainly occurred during grooming. One of the female chimps was grooming the alpha male, and (what I believe to be) a smaller ranking male slightly pulled the female’s arm which in turned upset the alpha male.

The alpha male began grunting and hooting till the smaller ranking male left the area in which they were in. There were also signs of aggression when approaching the females for mating. In one instance, a low ranking male grabs a female by the neck and begins copulating. This occurred during feeding. The way he grabbed her was very forceful. It was not solicit sex nor did she present. There was no touch or embrace between male and female. On a second occasion a male chased a female (all while hooting) when she fled and rejected his approach.

He did not force her to copulate but showed non-contact aggression towards the female by hooting and taking a mighty stance. The females upstairs, though they did not engage in sexual acts, they did embrace and touch each other at one point. The chimp who was resting put her arms around the other while she was sleeping. The resting chimp caressed her arms and hugged the other. I would describe it as cuddling or spooning. Their interaction was gentle. They were rather harmonious in all aspects of their interactions with one another. Nonetheless, both sexes demonstrated similar abnormal behavior.

When I was at the den I witness, the only female chimp that was awake, scratching. At first when she was sitting down she began scratching her arms and plucking out some of her arm hair. Once she grew tired and decided to lay she began scratching her genitals. She was laying down and scratch for a couple of seconds. I don’t believe she was pleasuring herself. When I was downstairs I witness the one of the males do the same thing. He scratched his genitals but did not do more than that. As I mentioned before I also saw him eat his own feces.

For the second part of my essay I will write about my observations at a Burger King fast food restaurant. I observed the behaviors of men, women, and families (that consisted of men and women). I was able to document differences and similarities between the groups. When I first arrived I saw two family and two co-workers. The first family I observed consisted of five people. They all shared food with one another. They also sat closely together. They laughed, smiled, and conversed while eating. The two co-workers sat across from each other. They conversed from time to time.

However, their interactions were minimal. Once they notice I was watching them, they became more interested in me than their food. I think they thought I was giving them the “eye”. In other words, showing interest. The second family that came in were two adults and three children. They parents ate in one table and the children ate in a separate table from the parents. The parents kept a watchful eye on their children. They would tell them to sit and settle when the children would become distracted and stop eating. These children were very animated.

They would stop eating so they could dance and sing. The were very interactive with each other and their parents. At one point one of the girls came over to her mother, hugged her and bite her shoulder. There was a third family, two adults and one child. They were not as active as the second family. Their demeanor was much more reserved. They ate and left. There was a group of teenagers sitting further away from the family. There were three male teens in that group. They kept some distance between them and talked as they ate. One sat listening to his music on one ear.

They all eat, make small talk and leave. A second, much more larger, group of male teens arrive soon after. This bunch is a lot more rowdy. The first thing they do when is stand and loudly converse. One of them breaks into a dance routine. Two others followed. Not all of them order something to eat but the ones that didn’t order occasionally grab from the ones that did. They notice two girls that walked in but do not approach them. They were to consumed in their own shenanigans. There were two other groups of males that came in besides the two I just mentioned.

Their behaviors were all somewhat similar. They a maintain spaced between each other. Most of the groups act a little childish. One group even started a mini food fight. The boys also took much bigger bites when they were eating their food. And spoke with their mouth full. They were sort all over the place when they would converse and interact with one another. The two girls that walked in were much more into their conversations. They seemed connected and in sync. They didn’t pay much attention to their food. Both girls were much more into their conversation.

They were also much more observant than the boys. They noticed the things and people that were around them. Not only were they observant, they were also catty. They looked around the room and stare at different groups and then proceeded to laugh. Females seemed to have no problems sitting close together. They ate much slower and were a lot more conscious as to how they would eat their food. The females that were with their families were much more focused on their children. They made sure they were eating and weren’t playing with their food. The had other priorities besides themselves.

One of the things I found most fascinating is that no one washed their hands before eating. It was reminiscent of the chimpanzees. I witness every person walk into the restaurant, order their food, and then sit and eat. The chimps didn’t do any kind of grooming before eating either. They picked out the food they like and ate. There were many interesting similarities between male chimps and male humans. They liked space between each other. They were easily distracted, and most of their interactions with one another was playful and a bit childish.

Most of the groups had what seemed to be one alpha male, so whatever the alpha did others followed. For the females, both human and chimps showed more unity and calmness. They were much more pleasant with one another. The females seemed more caring and less rowdy than the males. The children that were there also showed similar behaviors to the chimpanzees. They were both playful with their counterparts (or in the case of humans, siblings). The behavior of the little girl and her mother reminded me of two female chimpanzees I observed. As I state previously, the young girl hugged and nibbled on her mother’s shoulder.

Similarly, two females chimpanzees embraced each other while resting close to one another. However, there were also major differences. For one none of the males approached any of the females at Burger King. They acknowledge their presence but stayed away and maintain there attention towards their friends. In contrast, the male chimps were fully aware and interacted with the two females they had in their group. At one point of the males even grab one female (during their feed) by the neck and mounted her. Some of the chimps seem much more aggressive in their behavior as oppose to the humans I observed.

Unlike the chimps, the humans I observed were playful in their demeanor and didn’t show any kind of aggressive behavior towards each other. Not to say the chimpanzees did not have their playful moment because they did. It’s just that they would become agitated with one another and things would go from playful to aggressive. One more obvious difference is that humans do not consume their feces. They also do not very strict rankings. For example, when the chimpanzees were feed the lower ranking chimpanzees had to wait to eat while the higher ranking took their first dibs on what they wanted.

Human on the other hand, eat together at the same time. Some humans even wait for their entire groups to receive their food before the start consuming. In conclusion, I was able to find that though we’re different from chimpanzees there are some behaviors that we do share. I believe that the main difference between us is that we have been conditioned to oblige by rules of conduct. I’m sure most people wouldn’t want to be compared to a chimpanzee, but once people realize that chimpanzees are smart and interesting I bet they won’t mind as much.

Cite this Observation on Chimpanzees and Human Behavior

Observation on Chimpanzees and Human Behavior. (2016, Oct 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/observation-on-chimpanzees-and-human-behavior/

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