Captivity in zoos increases the chances that a chimp will behave bizarrely. This is the situation described in a report to Global Animal, Captivity Fatal To Chimps’ Mental Health?
The documented behaviors, which included self-mutilation, repetitive rocking, and consumption of feces, are symptoms of compromised mental health in humans, and are not seen in wild chimpanzees, the authors say. The study found that even chimps at very well regarded zoos displayed the disturbing behaviors.
This study has to make one wonder as imprisonment in a mental hospital is seen as an antidote for bizarre behavior in humans. The evidence, as exhibited by chimpanzees, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, is that such is not necessarily the case.
He (Nicolas Fisher-Newton) and co-author Lucy Birkett used both direct observations and published sources to document the behaviors of 40 chimpanzees at six zoos in the U.S. and the U.K. The collected data, covering a two-year period, was then compared to observations made of wild chimpanzees, such as 1023 hours of documentation on wild chimps in Uganda.
Where the wild is, as far as the human species are concerned, is a good question. Captivity in mental hospitals is, on the other hand, probably much less conducive to good “mental health” than residence in a community.
A recent study also found that zoo visits boost a child’s science and conservation education more than books or classroom teaching alone. Over 50 percent of all school children aged between 7 and 14 showed improvements in their knowledge of animals, habitat and conservation after just a single zoo visit.
Out of this observation naturally arises the question, would chimpanzee intelligence and conservation consciousness be increased by having chimpanzees visit human mental hospitals to observe and study the inmates?
In another online story, air pollution has been found to have an adverse effect on the mental health of mice: Air pollution linked to mental problems. I would suspect that the imbibing of polluted or poisoned water would not be the greatest thing for a mouse’s mental health either.
Ohio State University researchers said the cognitive problems were observed in mice exposed to polluted air. The researchers said in a statement that this is one of the first studies to look at pollution’s impact on mental health and ability.
Mice are not chimpanzees, or human beings, but if dirty air affects mice so drastically it must certainly affect chimpanzees and humans as well.
The mice in the study were exposed to either filtered air or polluted air for six hours a day, five days a week for 10 months, which is about half the rodents’ lifespan.
Now it is my contention that if we were to appropriate the wealth and resources of * robber barons, and if we were to reverse the green house effect created by those * robber barons, then these actions would have a correspondingly positive effect on the present and future mental and physical health of mice, chimpanzees, and human beings.
* Note: I’m expanding the currently archaic definition of robber baron, in this instance, from the large industrialist of the 19th century, and heirs, to include technological, corporate, investment, and entertainment moguls (think glutton oink oink) operating in the world of the present.