Crushing Boredom

In the wild, chimpanzees are highly social animals and spend hours each day foraging, traveling, grooming, and interacting. They are stimulated by the challenges of their physical and social world.

In laboratories, chimpanzees endure decades of endless boredom and physical as well as psychological trauma. They have nowhere to go and nothing to do. Some are being warehoused. Others used to “breed” more babies for research. Still others have been in on-going and ever changing active protocols. In labs they must cope with the constant stressful sounds of other traumatized chimpanzees and the constant laboratory noises of cages banging and rattling, locks clanging, and cleaning hoses roaring.

Momentary relief from the crushing boredom may come from contact with caregivers. Sometimes caregivers are the chimpanzees’ only contact with the world. On weekends, holidays, or during chronic staff shortages, this contact is even more limited. Less compassionate caregivers provide minimal care and may avoid enrichment (provision of toys or treats) because it means more work. For the imprisoned chimpanzees, the boredom and the din of the lab drone on.

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