Welfare and conservation

Pan African Sanctaury Alliance: securing a future for the African great apes

Stokes, R., Tully, G., & Rosati, A. G. (2018). Pan African Sanctuary Alliance: securing a future for the African great apes. International Zoo Yearbook, 52, 1-9.

[PDF] [Publisher’s Version] Abstract
The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) is the unified voice of primate rescue and rehabilitation pro- jects in Africa, and includes 23 member organizations in 13 countries. PASA improves animal welfare by regularly evaluating these sanctuaries to ensure that they operate at a high standard of care, building the capacity of sanctuary staff and providing crisis support to mitigate emergencies. Moreover, PASA works with its member organizations to raise awareness globally about wildlife issues and to conduct other large-scale conservation projects. In these endeavours, PASA ben- efits greatly from the local experience and connections of its member organizations. Finally, nearly all PASA- member sanctuaries host researchers, thereby contribut- ing to our knowledge of the great apes and other Afri- can primates. Much of PASA’s work is made possible by support from zoos around the world. A brief precis of the current work carried out by PASA and its mem- ber organizations is given, along with descriptions of conservation programmes that are planned for the future.

Assessing the psychological health of captive and wild apes: A response to Ferdowsian et al.

Rosati, A. G., Herrmann, E., Kaminski, J., Krupenye, C., Melis, A. P., Schroepfer, K., Tan, J., et al. (2013). Assessing the psychological health of captive and wild apes: A response to Ferdowsian et al. (2011). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 127, 329–336.

[PDF]  [Publisher’s Version]  Abstract

As many studies of cognition and behavior involve captive animals, assessing any psychological impact of captive conditions is an important goal for comparative researchers. Ferdowsian and colleagues (2011) sought to address whether captive chimpanzees show elevated signs of psychopathology relative to wild apes. They modified a checklist of diagnostic criteria for major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder in humans, and applied these criteria to various captive and wild chimpanzee populations. We argue that measures derived from human diagnostic criteria are not a powerful tool for assessing the psychological health of nonverbal animals. In addition, we highlight certain methodological drawbacks of the specific approach used by Ferdowsian and colleagues (2011). We propose that research should (1) focus on objective behavioral criteria that account for species-typical behaviors and can be reliably identified across populations; (2) account for population differences in rearing history when comparing how current environment impacts psychological health in animals; and (3) focus on how changes in current human practices can improve the well-being of both captive and wild animals.

Use of “entertainment” chimpanzees in commercials distorts public perception regarding their conservation status

Schroepfer, K. K., Rosati, A. G., Chartrand, T., & Hare, B. (2011). Use of “entertainment” chimpanzees in commercials distorts public perception regarding their conservation status. PLoS One, 6 e26048.

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Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are often used in movies, commercials and print advertisements with the intention of eliciting a humorous response from audiences. The portrayal of chimpanzees in unnatural, human-like situations may have a negative effect on the public’s understanding of their endangered status in the wild while making them appear as suitable pets. Alternatively, media content that elicits a positive emotional response toward chimpanzees may increase the public’s commitment to chimpanzee conservation. To test these competing hypotheses, participants (n = 165) watched a series of commercials in an experiment framed as a marketing study. Imbedded within the same series of commercials was one of three chimpanzee videos. Participants either watched 1) a chimpanzee conservation commercial, 2) commercials containing ‘‘entertainment’’ chimpanzees or 3) control footage of the natural behavior of wild chimpanzees. Results from a post- viewing questionnaire reveal that participants who watched the conservation message understood that chimpanzees were endangered and unsuitable as pets at higher levels than those viewing the control footage. Meanwhile participants watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees showed a decrease in understanding relative to those watching the control footage. In addition, when participants were given the opportunity to donate part of their earnings from the experiment to a conservation charity, donations were least frequent in the group watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees. Control questions show that participants did not detect the purpose of the study. These results firmly support the hypothesis that use of entertainment chimpanzees in the popular media negatively distorts the public’s perception and hinders chimpanzee conservation efforts.