• Switzerland's news in English

Chimp police break up fights: Swiss study

Lyssandra Sears · 9 Mar 2012, 11:05

Published: 09 Mar 2012 11:47 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Mar 2012 11:05 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Researchers at Walter Zoo in Gossau have found that chimpanzees will mediate disputes amongst peers in an effort to keep harmony in the group.

Anthropologists from the University of Zurich, led by Professor Carel van Schaik and Claudia Rudolf von Rohr, studied a group of chimps at the zoo for almost 600 hours across two years, and consulted records of chimp activity from three other zoos, news website the Huffington Post reported.

They found that certain impartial chimps would intervene in conflicts between fighting group members. The policing chimps showed neither bias to one or other side, nor any aggression.

“We were lucky enough to be able to observe a group of chimpanzees into which new females had recently been introduced and in which the ranking of the males was also being redefined,” Claudia Rudolf von Rohr, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.

“The stability of the group began to waver. This also occurs in the wild.”

The researchers found that policing members were usually high-ranking males or females. They suggested that the increased level of respect afforded these individuals was helpful in mediating aggressive behaviour. 

This hypothesis was also supported by the fact that when less respected members tried to mediate, they were not as successful as their high-ranking counterparts.

It was also suggested that the reason for police chimps to take the potentially high risk of approaching aggressive group members is in order to maintain peace within the clan.

This theory is supported by the finding that the more members involved in a conflict, and therefore the greater disruption to the group, the more likely it was that an individual would intervene.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
File photo: The Local

The cow was at risk of drowning after falling into the private pool.

Uefa Champions League
Basel 'ready for battle' in Champions League clash
Basel training in Paris. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Swiss champions Basel fancy their chances of springing a surprise when they face Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

Burst pipe causes major flood in Lausanne
The water flooded Place de la Riponne in Lausanne. File photo: Swiss Tourism/Christof Schuerpf

Water rushed down the streets after a pipe burst in the city centre.

Outcry after ‘neo-Nazi’ music festival held on Swiss soil
The village of Unterwasser was the tranquil location for the festival. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Should police have intervened?

Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Switzerland: what's not to miss? Photo: Christian Perret/Swiss Tourim

Former expats in Switzerland tell The Local what they miss about living here.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available