Young Wild Chimpanzee Looks Both Ways Before Crossing a Highway Road in Uganda

A young wild chimpanzee took great care to look both ways several times before crossing a highway road at the Kibale National Park in Uganda that had the potential to get very busy, very quickly, as the alpha-male waited patiently, letting the juvenile become comfortable with his decision to cross. According to a study conducted by primatologist Marie Cibot of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, and reported by New Scientist, chimpanzees have a healthy sense of caution and look out for the weakest of the group.

Chimps are exceptionally cautious when they cross the road. Ninety-two per cent of them looked right, left, or both ways before or during crossing, and 57 per cent ran across – showing that they knew the value of reaching the other side as quickly as possible. Alpha males led and organised 83 per cent of the road-crossing posses, compared with only 51 per cent of tree-climbing expeditions in the forest studied in parallel. This implies that they recognised the importance of extra vigilance during road crossings. There was also evidence that healthy and dominant chimps often made sure that stragglers or more vulnerable members of the group crossed safely. Some 86 per cent of the healthy chimps looked back or stopped when at least one vulnerable individual, such as an infant or injured chimp, trailed behind.

via New Scientist