Elizabeth Lonsdorf discusses chimpanzee 'fishing' behavior
at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago
visits a troupe of seven chimpanzees at the Lincoln Park Zoo in
Chicago and learns from them how to go fishing in an artificial
termite mound not for termites, but for ketchup. Just how the
chimps themselves learn to deftly insert sticks into the mound is
what fascinates primatologist Elizabeth Lonsdorf, who first watched
chimps termite fishing in Africa.
sees for himself what Elizabeth discovered in her studies of wild
chimps: that there are big differences between how boy and girl
chimps learn. The young females in the Lincoln Park Zoo quickly
picked up the skills of fashioning appropriate tools and fishing
out the ketchup from holes in the mound. One young female, Chuckie,
is so good at making fishing sticks that they are regularly stolen
from her by the other chimps. By contrast, the troupe's alpha male
appears bored by the whole idea, while the youngest male, Kipper,
prefers to swipe his mother's ketchup off her stick with his hand.
chimps' ketchup fishing is a big hit with the public at the zoo,
and Elizabeth hopes that the intriguing parallels and differences
between how humans and chimps learn will motivate zoo visitors to
support one of her main goals: furthering the conservation of endangered
chimpanzee populations in the wild.