Publié le 7 février 2023 | Mis à jour le 7 février 2023

More Than Just Kibbles: Keeper Familiarity and Food Can Affect Bonobo Behavior

Food availability can affect animal welfare, but it is not the only factor in play. Caregivers also affect welfare, and this aspect may especially apply to bonobos, the great apes that (with chimpanzees) are closest to us. In a bonobo group (17 individuals; La Vallée des Singes, France), we video-recorded behaviors possibly expressing positive emotions (e.g., play) and negative emotions (e.g., aggression or displacement anxiety activities), requests (gestures) and affiliation (e.g., sociosexual interactions). Within a few minutes around food provisioning, we determined behavioral frequencies with more/less familiar keepers and with different food types (kibbles/fruits/vegetables) or no food. More familiar keepers—regardless of food—were linked to more sociosexual contacts, which are probably used to contain excitement (more familiar keepers are strongly associated with forthcoming food). More familiar keepers—when distributing fruits/vegetables—were linked to more gestures, probably used to request and catch fruit items first. Preferred food increased aggression, with no keeper effect, probably because a highly valued resource (kibbles, not catchable by hand) was at stake. Play did not vary possibly because it works over longer time windows. Bonobo welfare may be improved by considering more than just food and that great apes are more similar to humans than to other animals.

Received: 20 November 2022 / Revised: 10 January 2023 / Accepted: 23 January 2023 / Published: 26 January 2023
  • Auteur(s)
    Marta Caselli, Emilio Russo, Jean-Pascal Guéry, Elisa Demuru and Ivan Norscia