Basic Instinct: The Hunt for “Pinata Colobus”
By Dominique Bertrand
Hunting is an important activity in the lives of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and crucial to their survival. Most people are surprised to learn that chimpanzees hunt and consume vertebrates (especially monkeys and a few other mammals) as a part of their diet. Once prey is captured, the possessor usually shares with other select individuals. Our study looks at the occurrence of hunting behaviors in captive chimpanzees. We study these behaviors by using mobile, monkey shaped pinatas in open roofed corrals that the subjects reside in, measuring instances of hunting and sharing behaviors. The study uses 80 chimpanzees total, separated out into 7 already formed social groups. No test ends until the majority of the pinata is either destroyed or taken into their interior enclosure. Due to uncontrollable factors regarding the behavior of weather and live animals our data will not be completely analyzed until after this summary is due. Currently we have seen that patterns of hunting related and sharing related behaviors differ across experimental conditions.