Observing Two Baby Primates

The focus of this study is primarily to discuss two primate species I found at the Oakland Zoo; the Hamadryas baboons and Chimpanzees, which I selected for the study. The objective of the study is to present detailed information and facts regarding the physical appearance, behavior, social structure, mating strategies, and other crucial observations noticed during my visit to the Oakland Zoo. Crucial observation has also been given to display key aspects that differentiate the two primate species. Along with this, more profound insight has been provided in the study that relates the common behavior patterns observed in the primate species with the behavior patterns of human beings, providing an in-depth assessment of ancient and modern human species.

This study provides an understanding about the ancient and modern human behavior, giving crucial pieces of evidence that primates and human species may have evolved revolutionarily from a single source.

The two primate species observed in the Oakland Zoo were Chimpanzees and Hamadryas baboon.

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From my observation, it was noticed that chimpanzees have long arms, short legs, and no tail. The most visible fact about their physical appearance was that their entire body is covered with long and thick black hair; however, it was noticed that there was no hair on their face, ear, fingers, and toes. They can easily lift objects and were observed to have a strong grip. They are mostly considered social beings; however, during the observation, they did not express much or communication with each other. They kept on making sounds and roaming all over the place.

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One of them began making loud noises and shook the entire branch of a tree vigorously. All the above observations were made around 2:50-3:50 p.m. They were seen to walk on the ground, which is known as knuckle walking. They appeared to be less active, and most of the time they were observed grooming each other, later I found out that they were males, due to the fact that most males spend time grooming each other, despite the fact that they act highly aggressive towards one another. Most of them appeared to be adults, because they seamed all to be around the same size as one another.

As per the observation, the Hamadryas Baboon was observed to have a slightly more distinct and different physical appearance. They were observed to have brown and light gray colored hair on their body. Both the females and males have similar body structures, both of them had the similar light gray and brown color hair on their body. The females, however, have a hairless face, which is black and brown. However, males were observed to have pink face and backside while one, which I assume to be the alpha, had a big main and looked physically bigger than the rest. The baboons were observed to have a short tail that is not prehensile. All these observations were made in the afternoon, around 1:30 pm. They were observed to be highly active; kids were playing all over the place. Some of them began climbing the tree. While most of the adult males were eating the grass, one of them was observed making loud noises and getting into a fight with what I highly suspected was the alpha male because of its large size. I had my suspicions that this male was an outcast, because most of the time he would roam around the perimeter of the encampment and had noticeable scars behind his head and on his back. He was a lot smaller in size, compared to the other males, yet looked old and worn out in a sense. From reading the sign they had about the baboons, I found out they have small groups comprising of 50-100 baboons, which consisted of co-existing families. Yet in this encampment there were maybe around 20 baboons.

As per the observation, several differences were observed among the chimpanzees and Hamadryas Baboon. During the observation, the chimpanzees looked to be slightly less active in comparison to the Hamadryas Baboon. I don’t know if this was because I went at the wrong time, or they just don’t behave like the baboons. Most of the time, only two chimpanzees were grooming each other and appeared to be less interactive with one another. However, the young ones of the Hamadryas Baboon were playing and roaming over the entire place. In the case of Hamadryas Baboon, there was a dominant male, the alpha, and bigger than all the other adults present in the group. The alpha male appeared to be dominant over everyone, and responsible for making major decisions it seamed like.

It was seen that Hamadryas Baboon are highly adaptable to their dry environment. In most cases, baboons are omnivorous and generally like to eat protein-rich insects and reptiles. They are fond of seeds, grasses, roots, and leaves. Whereas the chimpanzees are said to be omnivores and frugivorous. This is because they prefer fruits in comparison to all other food categories. Chimpanzees tend to eat leaves, leaf buds, stems, bark, resin, and blossoms. As per the observation and study, it was learned that insects and meat occupy a very small proportion of their food. I did see one chimp eat leaves from a branch, almost as if he was eating a drumstick, which I thought it was a interesting observation.

The social structure of Hamadryas Baboon is quite complicated and unique. It was mostly seen that a male with a bigger body structure, in comparison to other adult males to be the alpha. It was observed to dominate a group of females, and in case, any female was observed to move far away from the group, the alpha male would follow her and in return all the other females would follow him as well. He always seamed to keep a close eye on his females. Hamadryas Baboons tend to live in groups of 50-100 comprising of small families. Chimpanzees have about 98-99 percent similar DNA to human beings. They were observed to live in communities comprising of 15-20 chimpanzees. As one can notice both primate species exist in groups or what is called as multi-male multi-female groups. A Mother from the Hamadryas Baboons was seen to carry her offspring, while the other females helped and stood close to the mother with her offspring. The typical social interaction that was observed amongst the chimps included the tendency among what appeared to be the males to groom each other.

Mating strategies of chimpanzees is a little complex, as they involve male hierarchies; however, the females are submissive to males. Sometimes the chimpanzees violently compete for female sexual partners (Boyd & Joan, pg.160). Sometimes, the males commit violence against females and infants. They are observed to mate all year round. It has been observed that chimpanzees have no particular time in the year set for mating; rather it depends upon the female chimpanzees, which become fertile when food is abundant. In the case of Hamadryas Baboon, they have a interesting mating system, were a dominant male baboon mates with more than one female. Chimpanzees are highly regarded for their intelligence, as they can learn words, play with objects and have even been observed to have feelings for their friends. In comparison, the Hamadryas baboons are not seen to be as intelligent as chimpanzees yet they seamed to adapt and use what they had to their advantage.

As observed in the Oakland zoo, all the animals were seen to behave naturally, as if that was their habitat. Hamadryas baboons paid little attention to the people who were gathered to see them; instead, they were busy doing their own thing. The young Hamadryas baboons seemed to be playful and having fun. While the alpha or dominant males tried to stay in proximity with the female and they separated only when they had to eat grass. As mostly observed, the dominant male in the group was observed to have a large number of females around it, and, at one point it was observed fighting with another adult. This is the same characteristic of male on male behavior that is shown not only in captivity but also in the wild. From the observation, it can be said that there has not been any change in their behavior due to captivity and staying in the zoo. Hamadryas baboons are considered to be highly adaptive to their surrounding environment, and this is the probable reason that they have become comfortable at the zoo and the number of daily visitors does not bother or affect them at all in any way.

Chimpanzees are social animals and like to stay in groups. As per their behavior, they appeared to be slightly off track, and they appeared to be different from their usual nature. They appeared to be very inactive and lazy, however, in most cases, they are considered to be very intelligent, but due to captivity, their behavior signifies quite some abnormality. As per the observations gathered from different sources, it has been revealed that living in captivity does affect the chimpanzees leading to mental disorders. The studies have showed that chimpanzees at highly regarded zoos display disturbing behaviors. In comparison to wild chimpanzees, some chimpanzees living in zoos were observed to display abnormal behavior, which mainly comprised of poking into their own eyes, drinking their own urine, pulling out their hair, banging their heads against the surfaces and in addition, doing many other things that are never observed in wild chimpanzees (NBCnews).

The change in behavior is brought due to the decline in the ability of the chimps to be free and act as if they were in the wild. Chimpanzees are wild animals, keeping them in captivity restricts them from engaging with the natural environment. Considerable efforts are required to solve this issue and along with that proper training of the staff and workers is necessary for ensuring that some type of improvement is provided to the chimpanzees living in captivity.

The most common behaviors and insights that were observed in the primate species were that they are aggressive, quite similarly as human beings. This primate species was quite often found to be involved in attacks on their own species, which is common in human species. Chimpanzees are also known to kill the members of their own species or group at times. Along with this, a common feature similar to primates and human beings is that both have a consistent need for social interaction and physical contact. Although there is no particular time of the year when they prefer to follow mating patterns, instead it continues all year round. It has been studied that the DNA of chimpanzees and humans are almost if not identical, thus, observing a similar pattern in behavior provided a lot of crucial insight and understanding about the ancient and modern humans (Danielle Taylor, p.5). The behavior observed are common to modern humans, as they are seen to be highly social beings and prefer to form communities and societies small or large, respectively. It is common to observe aggression and violence in human behavior, mostly display of dominance of one group or an individual over another.

These observations signify that much of the behavior displayed by chimpanzees and Hamadryas Baboons are similar to humans. One of the critical insights that can be gathered through the above observations is that the chimpanzees and hamadryas baboons may belong to the human branch of the family tree (Nationalgeographic.com). The behavior pattern of these primates can also be associated with the history of humans as well. Other patterns that were observed to be similar with the human behavior is that the chimpanzees and baboons displayed the emotional response in different situations, signifying that they have feelings and do care for their kind. These aspects show that the primates have quite similar bonding with their group members. However, the social structure and organization is a little complex in these primates, as they comprise of dominant males and display a pattern, where a family would consist of one adult and 1-4 females. These aspects are completely different in human society. The possible similarities observed in the primates may be, because the DNA of human beings and these primate animals are entirely similar, about 95-98 percent specifically chimps. Another insight that can be drawn from the above observations is that similarity between humans and primates may be due to possible diversion, evolutionarily from one another about millions of years ago.

The above observations have provided considerable evidence that primate species are also highly intelligent, maybe not exactly like humans, but in very similar. Chimpanzees can learn words and play with objects, while the baboons can adapt with their environment; thus, it shows that human intelligence may have evolved through our human ancestors, who managed to form relationships in large and complex groups. This provides insight into ancient history; humans and primate species may have evolved through a similar phase, eventually diverging into separate beings.

The major conclusion that can be drawn from the above study is the fact that chimpanzees and hamadryas baboons are wild animals, and keeping them captivated at zoos creates disturbance, causing mental disorders especially to chimpanzees. Several commonalities were observed in the behavior of these two primate species during the visit to the Oakland Zoo. Primate species also tend to have a tendency of living in social groups and form communities; they also displayed the presence of emotions and understanding of other’s feeling. Along with this, the tendency to display aggression, violence, and dominance over other members of the group; signifying that the human species and primate share several common behavioral patterns. There were several differences observed between hamadryas baboons and chimpanzees. Chimpanzees were observed to be less active, they preferred more towards grooming each other, while most of the adult baboons were grazing grass, the dominant male preferred to stay in proximity with the females and did not allow other males to come closer to the females.

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Observing Two Baby Primates. (2021, Dec 15). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/observing-two-baby-primates-essay

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