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  4. Why do chimpanzees and bonobos benefit from research in sanctuaries?

Learning from sanctuary apes benefits both sanctuary and wild apes

People better protect what they understand

  • It was the surprising discoveries of field biologists like Jane Goodall that inspired our species’ special interest and dedication to protecting and caring for nonhuman apes. Non-invasive research at sanctuaries can continue in this same tradition by adding to our knowledge and enthusiasm for understanding the similarities and differences between ourselves and other apes.

A new ethical standard can be set for work with captive apes

  • Successful research programs in African sanctuaries will provide researchers with an alternative to more traditional laboratories that do not offer the high quality living environment that are found in Africa. African sanctuaries in turn will become the preferred research venue given their many advantages for non-invasive research.

Researchers are another resource to ensure the welfare of sanctuary apes

  • Sanctuary apes can benefit from additional resources provided by researchers through research fees (e.g. for management costs or improvements for research), equipment (e.g. computers, vetinarian equipment, etc) or expertise (e.g. disease screening and other vetinarian work). The resources of researchers that never made it to Africa before will be spent in ape range countries to aid in maintaining the high level of care found in African sanctuaries.

Behavioral research provides an additional form of enrichment

  • Many forms of behavioral research involve presenting nonhuman apes with problem solving tasks to study their intelligence (e.g. cooperative tasks in which they must work together to obtain a common goal). Apes enjoy problem solving and readily volunteer to participate in such games since they typically involve obtaining food rewards.
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology