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Successful behavioural adaptation of an orphaned juvenile Bonobo Pan paniscus: a case study at the Primate Park Apenheul, the Netherlands

Authors

  • M. DE LATHOUWERS,

    1. Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerpen (Wilrijk), Belgium, and
    2. Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Koningin Astridplein 26, B-2018 Antwerpen, Belgium
      E-mail: miekedl@yahoo.com
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  • L. VAN ELSACKER

    1. Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerpen (Wilrijk), Belgium, and
    2. Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Koningin Astridplein 26, B-2018 Antwerpen, Belgium
      E-mail: miekedl@yahoo.com
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Abstract

Opportunities to study the behaviour of unweaned primate orphans in the wild and in captivity are rare. Following the death of a ♀ Bonobo Pan paniscus at Primate Park Apenheul, the Netherlands, the opportunity arose to monitor the behaviour of her 3 year-old juvenile daughter ‘Kumbuka’ who remained in the natal group. Our aim was to investigate to what extent this juvenile's behavioural development was affected by her mother's death, and whether she developed a close foster-parent relationship with any of the other group members. There were no clear indications of the development of a strong foster-parent bond with a specific individual 2 months after the mother's death. Nevertheless, the juvenile ♀ showed no signs of behavioural depression. Her behaviour in general did not differ from other mother-reared juvenile Bonobos. This case study illustrates that keeping an unweaned Bonobo juvenile in its natal group may be feasible in captive-animal management. Separation, hand-rearing and reintroduction were not necessary, and the juvenile adapted successfully to the new situation.

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