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Mother Value: Orphan Chimpanzees Never Fully Socialize

Nov 10, 2015 02:26 PM EST

In new learnings about how much a maternal foundation can mean, it turns out that chimpanzees taken from their mothers within the first two years of their lives never reach full social-grooming status. In other words, they don't interact socially at the same level as chimps fully raised by their mothers.

The study was conducted by Austrian and Dutch researchers, who recently published their results in the journal Scientific Reports.

Subjects for the study were wild-caught chimpanzees. As it turns out, between 1950 and 1980, chimpanzee infants in the thousands were caught from the wilds of West Africa and brought to Europe, Japan and the United States. There, they have been used in biomedical research. Many zoos also have wild-caught chimpanzees-these are so-called founder populations, according to a release.

The team learned that chimpanzees taken from their mothers within their first two years of life were more socially isolated, decades later. The social grooming system within chimpanzee communities is vital to establishing and maintaining social relationships, the release confirmed. "The orphaned chimpanzees had a lower number of partners they groomed and were less active than were chimpanzees reared by their mothers," Elfriede Kalcher-Sommersguter, University of Graz, said in the release.

This was the case for both chimpanzees that had been kept alone in cages in labs as well as individual chimps that grew up in social groups in a zoo after being taken from their mothers early. In fact, even forty years later, the chimpanzees studied were less integrated into social grooming groups than those who had grown up with their mothers, the release confirmed.

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-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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