herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Monkeys get into swing of swimming

They may be no match for Michael Phelps, but a chimp and orangutan have proved to scientists that apes can swim like humans.

The two captive animals were separately filmed ploughing through water using a form of breaststroke.

Most land mammals swim instinctively by paddling their paws. Scientists believe the peculiar swimming style of humans and apes might be the result of life in the trees.

MOATS

Great apes are not known for their swimming ability, and there have been cases of them drowning in zoos that use water moats to confine them.

Both the apes studied had been raised and cared for by humans in the US.

One, a chimpanzee called Cooper, showed off his skills in a swimming pool in Missouri. Not only could he swim, but he enjoyed diving to the bottom of the six-foot deep pool to pick up objects.

"It was very surprising behaviour for an animal that is thought to be afraid of water," said researcher Renato Bender, from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

hnews@herald.ie

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