Conservation & Science Staff Bios
Stephen Ross, Ph.D.
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes
- Ph.D. - Providing Opportunities for Naturalistic Behaviour and the Implications for Captive Nonhuman Primate Management, Behaviour and Welfare, University of Copenhagen
- M.A. – Differential Rearing Effects on Chimpanzee Behavior, University of Chicago
- B.S. – University of Guelph
Areas of Expertise
- Chimpanzee behavior
- Comparative ape cognition
- Animal welfare
About Steve Ross:
Steve began his career in animal behavior studying alternative housing for domestic pigs as a research assistant at the Center for Food and Animal Research in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Following a year studying free-ranging rhesus monkeys in Puerto Rico, he continued to pursue his interest in the proximate and ultimate effects of captive environments on animal welfare as a researcher at facilities in Texas and Georgia. Here he helped conduct studies of the effects of human interaction, social introductions and computer-assisted enrichment on the behavior of chimpanzees.
In 2000, Steve was hired by Lincoln Park Zoo as a behavior specialist with a primary role in the design of what eventually became the award-winning Regenstein Center for African Apes. He conducted a wide breadth of ape and visitor studies that helped directly influence the design of the new ape facility and continues that line of research today in his applied behavioral research with both gorillas and chimpanzees.
Steve assumed the position of chair of the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan® (SSP) in 2002. In this role, he leads the multi-institutional effort to manage the population of chimpanzees living in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Steve has been instrumental in promoting the SSP as a global leader in the promotion of progressive chimpanzee management that optimizes chimpanzee welfare, both within and outside AZA zoos.
Though Steve has published papers on species as diverse as polar bears, otters, gorillas and zoo visitors, his primary focus is improving the welfare of chimpanzees in a wide scope of conditions. His research on how the inappropriate portrayal of chimpanzees in the popular media affects public conservation attitudes of this species is a unique contribution to these efforts. These interests culminated with the initiation of Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE in 2009. This innovative program seeks to assess the housing and management of chimpanzees living as pets, performers and in other private situations with the goal of facilitating policy change that will benefit this often-unseen population of chimpanzees in the United States.
With almost 15 years of experience studying animal behavior, Steve is enthusiastically supportive of Lincoln Park Zoo’s approach to scientific-based decision-making. Utilizing the unique research resources available at the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, he focuses on using science to influence policy that will have positive effects for animal welfare. Studying ape behavior and cognition allows him a unique insight into how these fascinating animals interact with their environments and how to best transform these areas to support their complex needs.