Orangutans in zoos enjoy watching visitors too

June 8th, 2010 - 12:09 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 8 (ANI): Just like we enjoy watching orangutans in zoos, the apes too regard “people watching” as a pleasurable way to spend an afternoon, scientists believe.

According to boffins, the apes appear to be stimulated by the sight of humans outside their enclosures.

To reach the conclusion, researchers conducted experiments with five orangutans at Australia’s Melbourne Zoo. In the tests, the viewing window onto their enclosure was either left completely open or half covered.

“This gave the apes the option of hiding behind the concealed part of the window if they wanted to protect their privacy. But far from avoiding the prying eyes of the public, they preferred to sit in full view looking back at the humans,” reports The Telegraph.

As per the figures compiled by the University of Melbourne, they spent four times longer watching people than they did out of sight and looking the other way.

One of the researchers, Professor Paul Hemsworth, an expert in animal welfare, said, “If the orangutans find visitors stressful we would expect them to spend less time on the open half of the window and more time facing away from it.

“But we found the opposite - they were attracted to the open window, spent more time being in front of it and more time directly looking at it, which suggests that humans are attractive to orangutans.”

His colleague, Rachel Bloomfield, added, “The results indicate visitors may be preferred stimuli for orangutans, and have an enriching effect on animal behaviour.” (ANI)

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