Humans Go on Display in Australian Zoo

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Tony Rook
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Humans Go on Display in Australian Zoo

Here is an interesting story from down-under.

Humans Go on Display in Australian Zoo
by Agence France-Presse

SYDNEY (AFP)An Australian zoo is putting humans on public display in its orangutang enclosure in a month-long scientific experiment that will also include a popularity contest.

Six humans have already taken up residence in the Adelaide Zoo pen for the 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 able to observe them through large perspex windows and live webcams.

Visitors are invited to vote for their favourite caged 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 on Wednesday.

"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."

The project will also raise money for a new chimpanzee enclosure in South Australia state, according to the zoo.

Despite the Adelaide zoo's claims, London Zoo displayed eight volunteers in an enclosure over an extended bank holiday weekend in August 2005. They wore little more than fig leaves in an experiment designed to demonstrate the basic nature of human beings.