Observation of Wild Chimpanzees and Their Habitat
Since 2008 we have sent a total of 43 persons including ape researchers from Kyoto University, together with zoo caretakers in collaboration with Japanese Zoos in 5 separate occasions to Tanzania. This program was financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan, (grant 20002001 to Tetsuro Matsuzawa) the Institutional Program for Young Researcher Overseas Visits AS-HOPE by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the training overseas visit programs at zoos.
It is essential to enhance the environment for captive animals in order to improve physical and psychological well-being. We aim to enhance captive animals' living environment by trying to introduce and establish conditions close to their real life in nature. In order to set clear goals for a proper enrichment process to be established in captivity, first we have to understand the wild animals and their habitat.
Gombe National Park
In Gombe National Park, we have observed wild chimpanzees in various age-sex classes during day tracking. The chimpanzees are world-famous through decades of work by Dr. Jane Goodall. By 50+ years continuous effort, we can easily enjoy observing a large number of species-typical chimpanzee behaviors without cages and barriers. Observations on maternal care, nursing, feeding and foraging, tool use at termite fishing, traveling, climbing, resting, grooming and so on are all possible.
Every visiting participant has deeply realized how essential is for young chimpanzees as social animals to grow up interacting with other group members (parents, siblings and similar age groups). At the same time, the presence of youngsters increases the variety of behavioral patterns among group members.
Mikumi National Park
Serengeti National Park
We were impressed by their life having real freedom of choice as to various foods, long feeding and foraging, and to large moving range. We need to apply inspiration which we have gained from this program wisely in our enrichment plans.