Nesting behaviour of the great apes
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While studying different literature about nesting behaviour I found that most researchers agree that this is an important specie-typical behaviour, and the great apes will build nests both in the wild and in captive settings. This behaviour have probably several functions: it may help to avoid predators, it may give increased comfort and quality of sleep, it may facilitate better thermoregulation and it may be to avoid insects and vectors of pathogens. There might be other reasons and functions to build nest that human still haven’t understood yet. The social aspects of nesting may be more meaningful than we think and further research is needed on this topic. Captive apes need to be given the opportunity to perform nest building activity, as this can increase the welfare of the animals as well as to allow them to perform their natural behaviour. Great apes may spend up to one half of their lifetime in nests. Being aware of this I think nest and sleep sites should be carefully considered. Nesting materials can be used as environmental enrichment for captive non-human primates. Variations among species, populations, and age and sex classes do occur but the fact is that great apes tend to sleep in nests, and therefore they should have the possibility to do so also in captivity. In the wild they have preferred areas for nesting and they choose specific tree species. This should be taken into consideration when keeping great apes captive.