Jan 15, 2007

Australian Zoo Cages Humans For Public Viewing

A zoo in Australia is putting humans on public display in one of its orangutan enclosures for a month-long experiment that's been titled "the human zoo." Groups of people taking part in the experiment will be locked in the enclosure during the zoo's opening hours for a week, and the public will be able to observe them through large perspex windows and live webcams.

As of Tuesday evening, six people had put themselves in the orangutan enclosure at Adelaide Zoo. Animal behaviorists will be studying the caged humans to try to find ways to improve the living conditions of captive great apes.

University of South Australia animal psychology specialist Carla Litchfield says she will live inside the enclosure for the entire month.

"Part of what I do at the zoo is to come up with activities for great apes and other animals, to stimulate them behaviorally 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."

People who visit the zoo can vote for their favorite caged human if they have a particular preference.

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

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