Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wierd: Humans on display at Australian Zoo

An Australian zoo is claiming a world first by putting humans on public display in one of its enclosures. Six humans took up residence in a disused Adelaide Zoo orangutang enclosure last week for a month-long experiment dubbed “the human zoo”.

Groups of humans will spend week-long shifts locked in the enclosure during the zoo’s opening hours, with the public viewing them through large perspex windows and live webcams.

Visitors are invited to vote for their favourite human, who will also be studied by animal behaviourists trying to work out ways of improving living conditions for captive great apes such as chimpanzees.

University of South Australia animal psychology specialist Carla Litchfield is spending the entire month in the enclosure with the humans.

“Part of what I do at the zoo is to come up with activities for great apes and other animals, to stimulate them behaviourally and keep their brains occupied,” she told ABC radio.

“I never know what it feels like, so a month in there will give me a good idea of the smells and sounds and what it’s like to be stared at by thousands of people every day.”

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