Hopefully, you’ve never received a faceful of poo from a chimp at the zoo. But if you have, you can certainly relate to the surprise that these zoo patrons felt when a large chimp tossed a welcome gift over to them.
This video is short but really packs a punch. The chimp begins at one side of the enclosure, picking up speed. It’s hard to tell what he has in his hand but it becomes very apparent just seconds later. As he lumbers along, he tosses…something…toward the group of people by the fence. The poo comes at them and the chimp continues on his way.
The focus now on the waste flying through the air, the screaming intensifies. An umbrella comes into the frame, deflecting some of the poo. It’s unclear whether the person filming was holding the umbrella or if it was another bystander.
The person filming demonstrated fast reflexes as they captured the projectile poo on camera but moved out of the way before being hit too much. The poo comes straight at them and the viewer is treated to a first-hand account of just what it’s like to have poo thrown at you at the zoo.
Cartoons may depict chimps as poo-throwing animals often, but you may be surprised to find out that it actually does happen in real life. When they do, throwing poop actually serves a very interesting purpose in their complex behaviors. Chimps are known to be some of the most enthusiastic poop throwers of the primates but it is a common behavior for other apes and monkeys as well.
Chimps and other primates likely throw their poop as a form of communication. Primates are incredibly complex and smart, with hierarchies within their troops. They use their bodies and vocalization to communicate so it would only make sense that their waste is used as well. Scientists believe that throwing poop at a rival is a show of dominance. It is also possible that it is the chimp’s way of saying that they are angry or annoyed. In this video, the chimp’s body language and aggressive posturing certainly backs up that theory. And judging by the people’s reaction to the poop, he certainly got his message across.
Zoologists observed that poop-throwing is more common in monkeys and apes in captivity than in the wild. Of course, this is impacted by the fact that monkeys and apes are easier to observe in captivity than in the wild. But it is also probably due to the increased stress that can come with life in captivity. If they do not have plenty of enrichment opportunities, primates can get bored and annoyed. This can lead to more poo-throwing. That’s one reason why it is so important to support zoos that keep animal welfare and enrichment as a top priority.
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