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Keywords:

  • chimpanzee;
  • wounding;
  • welfare;
  • husbandry;
  • adolescence

Abstract

Adolescence, the period lasting from the onset of puberty to the emergence of physical and sexual maturity, is a period of social change for many species including chimpanzees. Several reports have implicitly linked the physiological changes that occur during male chimpanzee adolescence to significant disruption in the social group, which in turn may result in serious agonism and wounding. To assess the association between adolescent males and wounding rates, 38 institutions housing 399 chimpanzees among 59 social groups, recorded all wounds incurred by chimpanzees over a 6-month period. The rate of wounding did not differ between groups with or without adolescent males. Adolescent males received the most wounds, but were no more likely to cause wounds than group members of any other sex–age class. Social groups with multiple adult males experienced lower wounding rates than those with a single adult male. Results indicate that (1) adolescent male chimpanzees may receive, but not inflict, more wounds than chimpanzees in other sex–age classes; and (2) management strategies that support natural social groupings may control and limit group agonism. Zoo Biol 28:623–634, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.