Thursday, April 30, 2009
Using a research design that simulated transmission over multiple generations, researchers Victoria Horner, PhD, of the University of St. Andrews and the Yerkes Research Center, along with Yerkes researcher Frans B.M. de Waal, PhD, and St. Andrews researcher Andrew Whiten, PhD, were able to more closely examine how chimpanzees learn from each other and the potential longevity of their culture. In doing so, they confirmed that a particular behavior can be transmitted accurately along a chain of up to six chimpanzees, representing six simulated generations equaling approximately 90 years of culture in the wild. A comparative benchmark study with three-year-old human children, conducted by St. Andrews researcher Emma Flynn, PhD, revealed similar results, providing further evidence chimpanzees, like humans, are creatures of culture.
In the study, researchers began by introducing a foraging technique to two chimpanzees, one each from two separate social groups, to train them to open a special testing box one of two ways - either by sliding or lifting the door - to reveal fruit inside. Chimpanzees in a third social group, used as the control group, were allowed to explore the testing box but were given no instruction or training to open the testing box. Once each individual animal from the first two social groups proved successful, another animal from the same social group was allowed to observe the process before interacting with the testing box. Once the second animal succeeded, another chimpanzee would enter and observe the technique, and so on down the chain. In the two social groups trained to slide or lift the door, the technique used by the original animal was passed to up to six chimpanzees. The chimpanzees in the control group were able to discover both methods through individual exploration, suggesting the exclusive use of a single technique in the non-control groups was due to behavioral transmission from a previous animal.
"The chimpanzees in this study continued using only the technique they observed rather than an alternative method," said Horner. "This finding is particularly remarkable considering the chimpanzees in the control group were able to discover both methods through individual exploration. Clearly, observing one exclusive technique from a previous chimpanzee was sufficient for transmission of behavior along multiple cultural generations."
This research may contribute to a better understanding of how chimpanzees learn complex behaviors in the wild. "By conducting controlled cultural experiments with captive chimpanzees, we are able to learn more about wild population-specific behavioral differences, thought to represent a form of cultural variation," said Horner. "These findings also show great similarity between human and chimpanzee behavior, suggesting cultural learning may be rooted deep within the evolutionary process." Further studies by researchers at the Yerkes-based Living Links Center, established in 1997 to facilitate primate studies that shed light on human behavioral evolution, may expand on these findings by examining the cognitive mechanisms involved in cultural learning and the generational transmission of behavior and traditions.
For more than seven decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University has been dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of primate biology, behavior, veterinary care and conservation, and to improving human health and well-being. Today, the center, as one of only eight National Institutes of Health-funded national primate research centers, provides specialized scientific resources, expertise and training opportunities. Recognized as a multidisciplinary research institute, the Yerkes Research Center is making landmark discoveries in the fields of microbiology and immunology, neuroscience, psychobiology and sensory-motor systems. Research programs are seeking ways to: develop vaccines for AIDS and malaria; treat cocaine addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimers; unlock the secrets of memory; determine behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy; address vision disorders; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior. "
When Linda Chernus heard about a chimpanzee attack in Connecticut that left a woman fighting for her life in a hospital, her thoughts went back almost four years and thousands of miles away to a chimp sanctuary near Girona, Spain.
Chernus, a clinical social worker and professor of clinical psychiatry at UC, worked for four days at MONA, a sanctuary for abandoned and abused chimpanzees, in July 2005.
Drawing on her experiences there, she wrote two manuscripts that were published in December 2008 in the Journal of Emotional Abuse.
The papers drew parallels between the chimps, many of whom had experienced maternal loss and social isolation after being taken from their native habitats, and human children who had been emotionally abused and neglected.
“We can learn from nonhuman primates about creating therapeutic environments for children who have been emotionally abused,” Chernus says.
MONA created an enriched family unit, Chernus says, by grouping a mother chimpanzee with five children—three of whom were not biologically her own—and adding a male chimp who had lost his mate.
The male and female—both of whom had been in captivity before coming to MONA—bonded well and nurtured each other, and the female emotionally abused and neglected. nurtured all five of the children as if they were her own, Chernus says.
“The important thing is to have an environment that’s enriched, ideally with siblings and peers,” Chernus says of the chimps. “It felt like home, so they were able to develop.”
Abuse of chimpanzees isn’t confined to physical abuse or being locked in cages, Chernus says.
“Humanization”—being dressed in clothing, or made to perform like children—is also a form of abuse, she says.
“People think it’s cute to dress little chimpanzees,” she says. “It may be cute for the people, but it’s really abusive. It’s a disruption of their normal lifestyle—what they need to grow and prosper. They’ve been traumatized by being humanized.”
The chimpanzee in the attack, known as Travis, starred in television commercials when he was younger, according to news reports about the incident. He had been born in an Arkansas compound in 1995 and was raised in the Stamford, Conn., household of Sandra Herold after his mother was shot and killed following an escape and rampage when he was three days old.
He attacked Charla Nash, a friend and employee of Herold’s, on Feb. 16, 2009, as she was trying to help lure him back into Herold’s house.
Herold has speculated that Travis attacked Nash because she Girona, Spain. Chernus, a clinical social worker and professor of clinical psychiatry at UC, worked for four days at had changed her hairstyle and was driving a different car.
Nash lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids in the attack and suffered significant traumatic brain injury, according to the Cleveland Clinic, where she was transferred from Stamford Hospital. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic performed the nation’s first face transplant in December 2008, but a statement from the hospital said it was too early to consider reconstructive surgery for Nash.
Travis was shot and killed by police following the attack. Chernus has been following news of the attack and is highly critical of Herold and a legal system that allows chimpanzees to be kept as pets.
“What she did is extremely bizarre; it’s very unfair to the animal, unfair to anybody,” Chernus says. “I was also surprised that the legal system had allowed that to go on for so long.”
Connecticut officials say they were aware that Travis lived in the Herold home but existing law did not give them the authority to remove him.
Since the attack, legislation has been proposed by the state attorney general that would ban primates, alligators and other types of wild and potentially dangerous animals from private homes."
A new study of wild chimpanzees shows that the biggest predictor of territorial boundary patrols is the number of males in the group. The more males in the group, the more often they will patrol their territory.
Chimpanzees will sometimes attack and kill their neighbors during the rarely observed boundary patrols, said John Mitani, professor of anthropology at University of Michigan and co-author of the paper "Correlates of Territorial Boundary Patrol Behavior in Wild Chimpanzees," with David Watts of Yale University.
Scientists have known for about 25 years that the patrols and fatal attacks occur, the question has been what accounts for the varying number and frequency of these patrols and attacks.Researchers hypothesized that five variables might impact the number of patrols: food availability, hunting activity, the presence of estrous females, intruder pressure, and male party size.
During boundary patrols, a group of males will rise without warning, form a single file line and silently depart the group, Mitani said. The behavior is markedly different from normal feeding parties, which are loud and scattered.
"What they are doing is actually seeking signs if not contact with members of other groups," Mitani said. "If the patrollers outnumber them, then they will launch an attack." During the attacks, the chimps beat and often kill their neighbors.
The groups are generally all male, but on rare occasions females---typically infertile---will join the patrol, Mitani said. The patrols and attacks are an important part of the chimp society, he said.
"They take up about two hours out of a 12-hour work day," Mitani said. "That is not trivial exercise in terms of energy expended."
Chimpanzees live in fission-fusion societies. This means that like humans living in a town, chimps form cliques and aren't all together in one place at the same time. But on patrol days, researchers found that a larger number of males gathered together than on non-patrol days. The addition of one male to the group increased the odds of a patrol by 17 percent.Mitani and Watts observed a community of about 150 chimps in Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda and collected 24 month of data compiled over five years. The Ngogo community is significantly larger than two other well-studied chimpanzee communities in Gombe andTaï , but the males in all three communities patrolled with equal frequency on a per capita basis. However, the chimps in Ngogo patrolled about twice as often as the other communities, due solely to the large number of males.
"The take home of all of this is that male numbers seem to matter, they find strength in numbers in doing this behavior, and they find strength in making these attacks," Mitani said.
Chimps are our closest living relatives, and it's tempting to draw analogies between human and chimp behavior, especially because it's very rare for mammals to seek out and attack neighbors in this way. But Mitani said the situation is much more complicated than that.
"I think it is difficult to make any general conclusions about what this says about human behavior," he said."
|Chimpanzees show behaviors thought to be much like those of our early human ancestors. Photo by Richard Wrangham|
The more humans study chimpanzees, the more similarities they find between the behaviors of apes and people.
The seven longest, largest studies of chimpanzees in the wild reveal far more variations in their behavior than expected. Researchers believe these variations are transmitted not through genes, but culturally, the way human infants learn from watching adults. In fact, such behaviors may be similar to those of our distant human ancestors.
The cultural differences from one chimpanzee group to another "presumably show us the platform of behavioral skill from which human culture evolved," says Richard Wrangham, a professor of anthropology at Harvard University. "The behavior of our distant ancestors probably varied in much the same way as chimpanzee behavior does today."
Wrangham studied chimpanzees for many years in East Africa. He combined his observations with researchers from various countries who have participated in the longest studies of chimpanzees all across Africa, including Jane Goodall who pioneered chimp-watching in Gombe, Tanzania. Together, these researchers accumulated 151 years of observations involving courtship, grooming, obtaining food, and even tickling each other (the chimpanzees, that is).
"This comprehensive analysis reveals patterns of [behavioral] variation far more extensive than have previously been documented for any animal species except humans," nine of the researchers report in the June 17 issue of Nature. "Moreover," the report continues, "the combined repertoire of these behavior patterns is itself highly distinctive, a phenomenon characteristic of human cultures, but hitherto unrecognized among nonhuman species." Andrew Whiten of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland is the lead author of the report.
A Show Of Inventiveness
Birds in different geographical areas sing songs in different dialects. Macaque monkeys in Japan wash sweet potatoes before eating them. Bottlenose dolphins in Australia protect their noses with natural sponges when searching for food in the crevices of coral reefs. These are variations in only a single behavior, but the scientific chimp-watchers counted 65 different categories of behavior. These "represent a unique record of the inventiveness of wild chimpanzees," they comment.
Some of the activities are common to all communities, such as inviting others to play by holding a stem in the mouth. Other behaviors depend strictly on local conditions, including fishing with a stick for edible algae that's only present in specific locations. Eliminating these two types of activities brings the count to 38 different behaviors the researchers catalog as cultural variants.
Chimpanzees in certain parts of West Africa crack open nuts with a piece of wood. Others use a stone, or place the nuts on a wood or stone anvil first. Chimps in other areas don't use any such tools, although there's no lack of wood, stones, or the same kinds of nuts.
On the west side of the Sassandra River in the Ivory Coast, nut-cracking is popular. No chimpanzees do it on the east side of the river, although the two groups are closely related genetically. Researchers use such criteria to rule out the possibility that nut-cracking behavior is inheritable
The apes also show wide variations in the way they fish ants or termites out of holes with sticks or leaf ribs. Different groups employ leaves differently, too as napkins or wash cloths, dabbing them on wounds, or squashing ticks and other parasites with them.
These arbitrary variations compare to differences in human behavior, such as the way people prepare barbecue sauce, or eat hard-boiled eggs from a cup instead of a bowl. Most New Englanders love fried clams; many people in Texas wouldn't think of using clams for anything but bait.
To attract attention, humans shout or wave; chimpanzees may slap a branch, bend a sapling then release it, or pull leaves along a stem with their fingers.
In Uganda, Wrangham watched chimps run their fingers over leaves and touch them to their lips. "That signal often leads to grooming," he notes. "A male without much social status may use it to let more dominant males know that he would like to groom. The signal avoids social blunders that might draw the wrath of others in their group." (That would be a useful type of behavior for humans at cocktail parties.)
Teaching, Learning, Or Imitating
How do chimpanzees learn these behaviors? Some scientists suggest that they are taught by adults. Wrangham and others doubt it. "At present, there's vanishingly little evidence of teaching," he says.
Other observers believe that young apes have their attention drawn to a behavior, then they learn it for themselves. The youngster sees an adult extract termites from a mound with a thin stick. That gives it the idea that there's food inside the mound, but the young ape has to work out the details for itself. For example, it might choose a leaf stem rather than a stick to take out termites.
Supporting evidence for such behavior comes from captive apes. In one example, young chimpanzees watch an adult who has been taught to drag out-of-reach food up to his cage with a rake. The trained chimp immediately positions the rake with the flat side down. The watchers get the idea quickly, but have to learn for themselves that the flat side does a better job than dragging the rake tines-down.
Wrangham and others favor the simplest explanation, that chimpanzees learn by imitation. He cites strong evidence from other experiments and observations. An old zoo chimp with a limp lurched from side to side as she walked. Three juveniles who followed her around all adopted the same swaying gait.
"We're getting increasingly comfortable with the idea that behavioral variations come from copying others in the group," Wrangham says. Other authors of the report agree that imitation is the simplest explanation. However, they write, "this is not to suggest that imitation is the only mechanism at work."
Wrangham believes that chimpanzee behaviors, like human traditions, are constantly being invented and going extinct.
"Over a millions years or more, you can't have new behaviors being invented and acquired without some processes for losing them," he comments. Extinctions would explain why the same behaviors have not spread to all the chimpanzee populations in Africa. Otherwise, groups who come into contact with each other would exchange behaviors, giving them a more uniform distribution.
There are still lots of questions to answer about chimpanzee behavior, but this new knowledge reveals a great deal about the animals who are closest to us in an evolutionary sense
"Forty years ago, we knew very little of the behavior of our closest sister-species," notes the Nature report. "The results of the scientific collaboration presented here show a richness undreamt of at the time."
"Every chimpanzee population studied so far has a unique culture," Wrangham adds. "However, these apes are fast going extinct, often because they are being hunted for food. It will be a great loss if they became extinct before we can fully describe the rich details of their behavior."
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Bonobos are smaller than Common chimpanzees. They also sport pink lips and a black face. Behaviorally, bonobos are quite different from common chimpanzees. Whereas common chimpanzees live in patriarchal groups, bonobo groups are dominated by females. They are less violent than chimpanzees and do not engage in warfare like common chimpanzees. In addition, bonobos are famous for their sexual openness, including using sexual activity as a greeting and a way of mitigating conflict.
Bonobos are listed as endangered by IUCN's Red List. Only found in the DRC estimates of their population vary widely, from 5,000 to 50,000 individuals. Bonobos are threatened by habitat loss, deforestation, the pet trade, the bushmeat market, and even for use in witchcraft.
Six bonobos, a species of chimpanzee, have died from a flu epidemic in a month at the Lola Ya Bonobo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ten more have contracted the flu.
“There is no fever. Antibiotics don’t do anything. The bonobos have severe respiratory infections and then they can’t breath for 3 days then they die,” writes a staff member on the sanctuary's blog through the conservation organization WildlifeDirect. The staff of Lola Ya Bonobo have sent out a plea for help and donations, as the flu continues to sweep through their center. "
This has been a sad, long weekend for all of us at Tacugama and it’s looking very much that EMCV is the cause. Just as we are working hard to get all the chimps vaccinated against EMCV, the virus has struck again causing the death of two of our chimpanzees and leaving a third one ill. We already have Cheetah battling to recover from the infection that struck her almost a month ago. As you can imagine it is so upsetting and frustrating as we currently have a team working hard at camp to vaccinate all of the chimps against this virus but we had not yet reached those who succumbed in the last few days.
It was last Wednesday that the care staff raised the alarm for Marcel and Kate, both in Joke and Mama Lucy’s group. They came into the night dens looking very weak and disoriented, much the same as Cheetah earlier in the month. We spent an anxious night monitoring them - there are no real remedies available - and were pleased with how they appeared a little stronger the next morning. Mid afternoon on Thursday disaster struck as they both started vomiting and deteriorated rapidly. The team working on the vaccinations were available to take the best possible care but despite this poor Kate quickly passed away with nothing that we could do to save her. Marcel fortunately stabilised and so far does not seem to have been as badly affected as Cheetah."
On Friday the vaccination team worked hard, making good progress through our juvenile groups. As they prepared to start work early on Saturday, Moses raised the alarm from Philip’s group, poor Boyze was found dead in his night den. He had passed away maybe half an hour earlier. As you can imagine, we were all devastated.
So little really is known about EMCV, its transmission and treatment. It can seemingly affect different animal species (it often proves lethal in chimpanzees, bonobos, elephants and pigs) but it seems not to affect humans. It is understood to be transmitted by rats. Our vaccines have been kindly produced and donated by Taronga Zoo in Australia, who have also been affected. The Max Planck team supporting the vaccination programme will take tissue samples back to Germany and hopefully they will help improve knowledge and treatment for the virus, but this will take time.
As we continue to work hard to protect all of our chimpanzees here we say a sad and unexpected farewell to two of our family. Regular readers of our blog will have learned about Boyze as we worked to integrate him into Phillip’s group last year where he became an important ally to Phillip’s leadership of the group.
Kate was Dr Rosa’s first patient when our resident volunteer vet arrived at Tacugama over four years ago. Kate arrived at Tacugama in 2004 as a three year old having been confiscated as a pet in Bo, in the south of Sierra Leone. Rosa writes: “Kate was a sweet heart. We became best pals whilst she was in quarantine. She had a widespread skin infection and I had to treat her daily for several weeks….I used to call her Lady Kate. She would hug me through the grills and give me long groomings. What she loved the most were zips… my hip pack was a hit whenever she had a chance to play with it as it has many zips. Bobbie was her best friend, they were similar ages and both very friendly. We suspect Bobbie got sick with EMCV two years ago and luckily he survived, though it has left him with a weak heart and not too strong to cope with high levels of stress. This disease is striking hard in our chimps and in us. Each loss makes me feel more frustrated and powerless…I can’t believe I won’t see Kate anymore and I am missing her already. I will always keep Lady near my heart.
It's such an odd thing that a place like Prospect Park, which calls itself "one of the world’s largest classrooms," would support something like UniverSoul Circus. What educational value does elephants standing on their hind legs and horses jumping through flaming hoops serve? The only lesson I take from circuses is that if you cage animals, beat them with bullhooks and shock them electric prods, you can turn a profit.
If you think I'm being dramatic here, I'll let the facts speak for themselves. Here is just a sample of the USDA inspection reports on UniverSoul Circus. For the full report, click here.
June 21, 2005: A U.S. District Court judge who viewed videotape of UniverSoul elephant exhibitor Carson & Barnes’ animal care director Tim Frisco beating elephants with bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods described it as "troubling" and noted that it depicts conduct that violates the federal Animal Welfare Act.In 2001 General Mills discontinued its sponsorship of UniverSoul after learning of the circus's history of animal abuse and neglect. In 2004 Burger King dropped its sponsorship of UniverSoul for the same reason. How long will it take for Prospect Park to wise up and end this senseless abuse?"
June 2, 2004: During an inspection of UniverSoul Circus in Landover Hills, Maryland, Prince George’s County Animal Management Division observed two tigers fighting. The trainer, Tyrone Taylor, walked into the tigers’ holding cage, leaving the gate open. One tiger, known as Igor, escaped and ran loose, attacking an elephant named Suzie and biting her on the hip. During this time, children from several elementary schools attending the performance were walking under the tent in the area where the tiger escaped.
May 28, 2004: The USDA cited UniverSoul elephant exhibitor Carson & Barnes Circus for failing to provide an adequate safety barrier between the public and elephants.
July 11, 2003: A kangaroo named Rocky, who was used in a UniverSoul Circus boxing routine in which he was restrained by a harness and taunted into defending himself, died. The circus had continued to use the animal even though he had been diagnosed two months earlier with an often-deadly bacterial infection known as lumpy jaw, which can be caused by overcrowding, poor hygiene, or poor diet.
December 5, 2003: The USDA opened an investigation into UniverSoul kangaroo exhibitor Javier Martinez following a second kangaroo death within a four-month period.
February 4, 2003: A 450-pound tiger with UniverSoul Circus escaped in Jacksonville, Florida, while the cage was being cleaned. The tiger climbed up on a car, jumped over a fence, headed down an alley, frightened employees at a nearby restaurant, and was recaptured 10 minutes later.
July 6, 2002: UniverSoul’s Platinum unit was observed in Charlotte, North Carolina, using elephants belonging to William Woodcock. According to information compiled by the USDA on elephant examinations, housing, and transport, Woodcock commented to a USDA official, “If I get any defiance [from the elephants], I’ll beat the hell out of them. [The elephants] will disobey in public because they know I can’t hit them with the stick as much.”
April 11, 2002: UniverSoul’s Roots, Rags, and Rhythm unit was observed in Charleston, South Carolina, using three African elephants from Frisco Bros. Petting Zoo, owned by Joe Frisco Sr., the patriarch of an elephant-training family. In January 2002, PETA released undercover video of Frisco’s son, Tim, beating elephants during behind-the-scenes training sessions. Tim Frisco is shown cursing at and viciously attacking elephants with a sharp metal bullhook until they scream in pain and instructing other elephant trainers to “Sink that hook into them,” “Hurt ’em,” and “Make ’em scream.”
August 21, 2003: According to the Montgomery County Sentinel, a former animal trainer for UniverSoul Circus “found the circus to be mistreating some of its animals and actually called the USDA to report it.”
April 6, 2000: The USDA cited UniverSoul’s chimpanzee exhibitor, Mitchel Kalmanson, for failure to provide veterinary care, environmental enrichment programs, and adequate space. The chimpanzee cages had barely half the floor space specified in the AWA.
April 22, 1999: World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall appealed to UniverSoul Circus “to end the senseless exploitation of chimpanzees … who live out their lives in inhumane, lonely, and unnatural settings in the name of entertainment.”
October 8, 1997: The Ethnic NewsWatch Sacramento Observer reported that comedian Richard Pryor had written to the circus director asking that animals not be used “because of cruel training methods and a life that consists of little more than tiny cages, leg shackles, bullhooks, and whips.”
April 29, 1997: The Village Voice reported, “The front row is so close to the ring that people sitting there are advised to remove their belongings from the railing when the elephants enter—if one of these babies goes mad, somebody’s getting killed.”
You can help, just by not hiring any circus and not participating in their horrible shows of mistreatment."
Orang-utan numbers have plummeted over recent years, mainly as a result of the spread of monocultures, particularly oil palm. The destruction of huge areas of Orang-utan habitat is now seriously threatening the species with extinction. So how best to ensure the survival of the Orang-utan?
This debate focusses on the controversy surrounding Orang-utan conservation: Is rehabilitation and reintroduction of rescued captive animals a viable way of conserving Orang-utans or would resources be better spent on the purchase, protection and recreation of their natural habitats?
Experts are divided in their opinions, and this forum, consisting of conservation experts, scientists and local conservationists, will pool their views and open the debate to the floor in what should prove to be an intriguing and lively discussion. The debate will be chaired by The Earl of Cranbrook, with Dr David Chivers (Cambridge University) and John Burton (World Land Trust) introducing the discussion.
WLT’s first Orang-utan Appeal, launched in 2008, has successfully raised funds to save important forest habitat in the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain of Sabah. We have launched a second appeal for Borneo's Orang-utans to raise funds for further land purchases in the Kinabatangan area."
On the 30th April 2009 at 18.00-19.00 British time, the World Land Trust and Linnean Society of London will host the widely anticipated ‘Great Ape Debate’. The debate will be streamed live onto the organisation’s websites allowing a huge public audience for what is expected to be a lively and informative debate.
The destruction of huge areas of orangutan habitat is now seriously threatening the species with extinction and leading conservationists in the field hold conflicting views on how best to ensure the survival of “the person of the forest”.
This debate will focus on the controversy surrounding Orangutan conservation and whether rehabilitation and reintroduction of rescued captive animals is a viable way of conserving Orangutans or would resources be better spent on the purchase, protection and recreation of their natural habitats? Experts are divided in their opinions, and this forum, consisting of conservation experts and scientists , will pool their views and open the debate to the floor in what should prove to be an intriguing and lively discussion. The issues raised will also be relevant to the conservation of other species."
The debate will be chaired by The Earl of Cranbrook, and making up the panel will be:
Dr Marc Ancrenaz - Director of Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project
Mr John A Burton, FLS - Founder and CEO of World Land Trust
Dr David J. Chivers, FLS - University Reader in Primate Biology and Conservation, Veterinary Anatomy Programme and Head Wildlife Research Group at Cambridge University.
Ms Ashley Leiman, OBE - Founder and Director of Orangutan Foundation (UK)
Mr Ian Redmond, OBE - Ambassador, UN Year of the Gorilla and Chief Consultant, GRASP – UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Project.
The link for the debate is http://www.worldlandtrust.org/videos/great-ape-debate.htm or www.linnean.org.
Sir David Attenborough has called for greater protection for the wild habitat of orang-utans amid fears "emotional" television programmes about rescued apes have failed to raise awareness of the need to protect the rainforests where the animals live.
Programmes like the BBC's Orang-utan Diary, following the lives of orphaned and rescued orang-utans at a refuge centre in Borneo, have recently raised awareness of rehabilitation schemes helping the great ape be reintroduced into the wild.
However conservationists argue the money would be better spent protecting the rainforests where the orang-utans live.
Even if the animals are rescued many do not survive in the wild and can even spread disease in the existing population.
At a debate at the Linnaean Society of London, conservationists will argue over the best way to save the orang-utan. The great ape, which is one of man's closest evolutionary cousins, could be extinct in ten years largely due deforestation because of demand for palm oil and timber in Indonesia.
Programmes like Orang-utan Diary has followed orphans rescued from traders, who can fetch a high price for the animals as pets or for use in entertainment.
However John Burton, Chief Executive of the World Land Trust, said such series risks sentimentalising the issue.
"Orang-utan Diaries has raised public awareness but the negative effects is that it makes people think having cuddly baby orang-utans in captivity is a way of conserving them.
"It is very, very emotional. I do not have a problem with that, but it is a welfare issue; it has no mainstream value to conservation."
Mr Burton pointed out that by 2020 there will be so few animals in the wild, the population in the rainforest will no longer be viable.
"There is something like 1,000 orang-utans in captivity on the island of Borneo alone and 200 are being kept in zoos but there is nowhere for them in the wild. We need to distinguish between welfare and conservation. Keeping them in captivity is welfare because people to do not want to see them die, but it is not conservation."
Even if you rescue the orang-utans, he argued they are at risk of spreading infection in the wild population and argued that the money would be much better spent buying land for orang-utans to be protected in the wild.
"Millions of pounds are being spent on maintaining orang-utans in captivity. If the same amount of money was spent on protecting the wild ones, it would be much better spent."
Sir David said the protection of the rainforests must run alongside any rehabilitation.
He said: "Every bit of the rainforest that is knocked down is less space for orang-utans. They have been reduced very seriously in the past decade, and we must do all we can to reverse this devastation. I fully support World Land Trust in its bid to save this important land!"
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
For more than a quarter-century, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. Founded in 1979 by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law, ALDF™ has blazed the trail for stronger enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals in every corner of American life. Today, ALDF’s groundbreaking efforts to push the U.S.legal system to end the suffering of abused animals are supported by hundreds of dedicated attorneys and more than 100,000 members. Every day, ALDF works to protect animals by:
- Filing groundbreaking lawsuits to stop animal abuse and expand the boundaries of animal law.
- Providing free legal assistance to prosecutors handling cruelty cases.
- Working to strengthen state anti-cruelty statutes.
- Encouraging the federal government to enforce existing animal protection laws.
- Nurturing the future of animal law through Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapters and our Animal Law Program.
- Providing public education through seminars, workshops and other outreach efforts.
In addition to our national headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Animal Legal Defense Fund maintains an office in Portland, Oregon."
Kansas City, MO - Continuing 100-years of smiles, the Kansas City Zoo will open an indoor rainforest in the original 1909 Zoo building. Tropics opens to the public Friday, May 1 at 9:30 a.m. Media can have a sneak peek of the Tropics on Thursday, April 30 at 4:30 p.m. A private VIP ribbon cutting is being held at 5 p.m. on April 30 – Media is welcome to attend.
“Thirteen species of animals will put on a lively show in the Tropics. Nine of the animal species are new to the Kansas City Zoo,” commented Randy Wisthoff, Zoo Director. “It will be Primate-palooza with 5 primate species swinging and hooting.”
The Kansas City Zoo chose a rainforest exhibit because it is the most effective way to be immersed into a miraculous environment that enlightens us to the importance of preservation of these biological treasures.
Each visit to the Tropics will bring surprises. From the brilliant colors golden-lion tamarins bouncing lively from branch to branch to the pungent fragrance of Rum Sage Tree, Tropics will engage all your senses.
Funding for Tropics was provided through $30M in general obligation bonds in 2004, approved by 63% of the voters. The total cost of this renovation was approximately $5.6 million; much of the exhibit work was done by Zoo staff. Taylor Kelly was the general contractor.
Tropics will be a magical place to visit year round!
Kansas City Zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is $10.50 adults, $7.00 children ages 3-11. And, as always, Friends of the Zoo (FOTZ) members are free.
Call (816) 513-5800, or visit our web site www.kansascityzoo.org for more information.
PASA Hails Chimpanzee Dealer Conviction in Congo
A wildlife dealer who tried to sell a chimpanzee in the Republic of Congo has been sentenced to a year in prison and fined 1.1 million Fcfa (USD $2,188), a severe penalty that came about through the dogged work of the Projet Protection des Gorilles (PPG) – Congo and other conservation organizations in the region.
The Brazzaville Court ruled on March 19, 2009, that the dealer had violated Article 49 of the Congolese law, which bans the sale of endangered species in Congo.
The case made headline news in the Congolese newspaper, Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, and was led by the Project to Apply the Law on Fauna (PALF), a consortium that includes PPG-Congo’s parent organization, The Apsinall Foundation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
PPG-Congo is a charter member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), which coordinates activities between primate rescue and rehabilitation centers across Africa.
“The fact that a chimpanzee dealer can not only be arrested and prosecuted but also sentenced to jail for his crimes in Africa is extremely good news,” said Doug Cress, executive director of PASA. “For too long, PASA sanctuaries have had to deal with the confiscated chimpanzees and gorillas of the black market, while the illegal traders go free. But the fantastic results won by PALF can serve as an example for the rest of Africa to follow.”
PALF, which has 10 more cases pending in the Congolese courts, works closely with the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA), an organization that specializes in wildlife crimes and law enforcement from its base in Cameroon. PALF is also supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Servce.
The Congolese Ministry of Forest Economy backs PALF’s work.
Said PPG-Congo coordinator Luc Mathot: “We hope this first case against a wildlife dealer in Republic of Congo will help us for the several next ones.”
PASA was established in 2000 to promote cooperation and community among the sanctuaries that care for thousands of chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and other endangered primates across Africa. For more information, please visit PASA or PPG-Congo , or contact PASAapes@aol.com.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Humane Society of the
Given the surplus of chimpanzees in laboratories, the National Institutes of Health, which owns the title to many of these research chimps, projects the divestiture of a large proportion of the chimpanzees from laboratories in the near future.
In 2000, The HSUS worked with members of the animal protection, sanctuary, and animal research communities to secure passage of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act. The CHIMP Act establishes a national sanctuary system for those chimpanzees who have provided long service in laboratories, enduring sometimes painful and distressing experimental procedures. The sanctuary system will provide the chimpanzees lifetime care in social groups and in a naturalistic environment, a vast improvement over the housing conditions in which the chimpanzees are currently living.
The CHIMP Act was championed by Senators Bob Smith (R-NH) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Jim Greenwood (R-PA). Former House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley (R-VA) required certain controversial amendments before he would allow the bill to advance to the House floor. The Bliley amendments provided for the possibility of limited access to a sanctuary chimpanzee if proposed research met several criteria. However, in August 2007 a bill was introduced by Representative Jim McCrery and Senator Richard Burr to remove the Bliley amendments and ensure permanent retirement for chimpanzees in the federal sanctuary system. This bill was signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 26, 2007.
On Sept. 30, 2002, the National Institutes of Health announced the award of a contract to Chimp Haven (located in
In March of 2005, The HSUS submitted joint comments to the National Institutes of Health on the proposed standards of care for chimpanzees in the federally funded sanctuary system in response to a Federal Register Notice. The comments included a variety of suggestions on topics such as veterinary care, food, housing, enrichment, and consideration for chimpanzees with unique or special circumstances (such as aged chimpanzees). Submitted comments will be considered for the development and adoption of standards of care for chimpanzees held in the sanctuary system.
See the Chimpanzee Sanctuary page for a timeline of events pertaining to the CHIMP Act.
Updated Jan. 27, 2008.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
It’s a question at the heart of what it is to be human: why do we go to war? The cost to human society is enormous, yet for all our intellectual development, we continue to wage war well into the 21st century.
Now a new theory is emerging that challenges the prevailing view that warfare is a product of human culture and thus a relatively recent phenomenon. For the first time, anthropologists, archaeologists, primatologists, psychologists and political scientists are approaching a consensus. Not only is war as ancient as humankind, they say, but it has played an integral role in our evolution.
The theory helps explain the evolution of familiar aspects of warlike behaviour such as gang warfare. And even suggests the cooperative skills we’ve had to develop to be effective warriors have turned into the modern ability to work towards a common goal.
If group violence has been around for a long time in human society then we ought to have evolved psychological adaptations to a warlike lifestyle. Several participants presented the strongest evidence yet that males - whose larger and more muscular bodies make them better suited for fighting - have evolved a tendency towards aggression outside the group but cooperation within it. “There is something ineluctably male about coalitional aggression - men bonding with men to engage in aggression against other men,” says Rose McDermott, a political scientist at Stanford University in California."
There was no way that the chimp was going to strain himself, physically or mentally. He merely grabbed the window pole and hooked the bananas down.
And so it was, at Rio Zoo, that I saw a chimp display an example of intelligence, albeit a tetchy one.
Dianna and I had wandered around the zoo admiring the lions and tigers, giraffes and elephants and so on when we came across the chimpanzee compound.
There were three high walls to the compound and a chimp could be seen at the back sitting in the shade. Then a group of school children about eight or nine years old, obviously on a school outing, arrived.
Separating us and the chimp was a high, diamond mesh fence and beyond that a moat.
Suddenly, the children began making loud monkey noises and scratching their armpits. The chimp looked at the children wearily and slowly began to walk towards them, dragging his hands along the ground. This merely encouraged the children to increase the noise and scratching.
What they didn't see was that the chimp had scooped up handfuls of moist mud. When he got as near as he could he stood upright, screeched and grinned at the same time and hurled the mud at the children. When it hit the fencing it broke into a million little pellets and showered the children who ran off squealing and laughing."
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Ramona age 21, and KC, age 12, are the proud parents of a chimpanzee born at the Dallas Zoo at 6 a.m. on Sunday, April 19. This was the first birth for Ramona and KC. Residents of the Kimberly-Clark Chimpanzee Forest will be off exhibit for a short period of time so zookeepers can keep the chimpanzees together while they become accustomed to the new family member.
“There is a lot of excitement,” said John Fried, mammal supervisor for the Wilds of Africa. “The other chimpanzees have been checking out the baby, and the staff has been monitoring Ramona around-the-clock. The baby is nursing and Ramona is doing well as a first-time mom.”Source and Photographs
A battle has broken out between conservationists over attempts to save the orang-utan. The groups are divided over the issue of reintroducing to the wild orphaned animals that are now living in refuges in Borneo and Sumatra.
On one side, experts say such attempts can no longer be considered important and that all efforts must be directed to saving the apes' last rainforest homes. "If we cannot protect animals in the wild, there is no point in reintroducing rescued apes to rainforests," said Ashley Leiman, of the Orangutan Foundation.
But this view is disputed by campaigners who say refuges are today bursting with almost a thousand orang-utans. "It is a simple matter of welfare," said Cambridge biologist David Chivers "We are keeping these animals in artificial environments, in enclosures. Their rehabilitation should not be sneered at."
The issue will form the core of the Great Ape Debate to be held at the Linnean Society in London on Thursday when conservationists will argue over the growing controversy surrounding measures to save the orang-utan. At stake is the survival of one of humanity's closest evolutionary cousins, a creature whose numbers are now plummeting alarmingly. In Sumatra there are only 7,000 individuals of the species, Pongo abelii, which is now "critically endangered", while in Borneo, there are 40,000 members of the Pongo pygmaeus species. Its status is "endangered".
All great apes - chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans - are suffering from dramatic declines in numbers. Chimps and gorillas are victims of several forms of human activity, including their hunting for bushmeat. However, the orang-utan is affected by a single threat: habitat loss. Across Borneo and Sumatra, swaths of rainforest are being chopped down for wood and to provide land for farmers wishing to plant oil palm and acacia trees (for wood pulp). More than 1% of this forest is destroyed every year.
For orang-utans, the impact is devastating. Driven from their rainforests, adults are often shot by loggers or farmers when they stray into fields. Young orang-utans - who accompany their mothers until they reach the age of seven - are often caught and kept by villagers before being taken to a refuge.
Conservationists estimate that there are at least 800 orang-utans, most of them young, living in refuges in Borneo and Sumatra. Mary Tibbett, of the World Land Trust, said her group was committed to protecting orang-utan communities and was attempting to buy land around the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Borneo to provide homes for them. "Reintroductions sound fine but carry risks: of bringing in diseases that orang-utans have picked up from humans or letting loose animals who simply do not have the skills to look after themselves in the wild," she added.
But David Chivers warned that, in the long term, keeping orphaned animals in refuges could harm wild populations. "Keeping hundreds of animals in refuges, separated from wild animals, means you are isolating a large chunk of the orang-utan gene pool. That is ultimately harmful to the species. We need to reintroduce these animals."
Most experts now believe that by the year 2020 there may be so few animals left in the wild that populations there will no longer be viable. Hence the emphasis placed by organisations such as the Orangutan Foundation on protecting rainforests at all costs. However, Leiman added that she did accept orang-utan refuges had helped the overall plight of the species in one way. "The animals here have got used to humans and will often play at ground level, sometimes with their babies. Until we had these refuges, neither scientists nor tourists could see very much of orang-utans because, in the wild, they spend their lives in tree-tops. We didn't realise how intelligent they were."
At the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in Borneo, some orang-utans have revealed themselves to be startlingly intelligent performers. "They can pick any lock you give them and can copy the refuge's carpenters by banging nails into bits of wood with hammers," added Leiman. "They even imitate the way the carpenters hold their nails in their mouths."
The discovery that orang-utans are sharp social observers has come as a surprise to many experts. While chimps and gorillas are relatively gregarious, orang-utans live isolated lives and were not thought to have any social prowess. But recently scientists have found that orang-utans have their own cultures. For example, some groups have developed special techniques for using leaves to scoop ants from nests, others for using twigs to get honey from bees' nests. "These cultures are important for orang-utan survival," added Leiman. "However, if we allow our rainforests to be destroyed those cultures will be lost. Refuges won't help.
"This crisis has arisen because we have failed to protect the orang-utan for the past three decades. Rehabilitation will not save them now. We must do everything to protect them in the wild."
? Watch the debate on www.worldlandtrust.org/videos/great-ape-debate.htm
Violet gets ready for forest freedom
Violet the orang-utan was 18 months old when her mother was shot by loggers in Borneo, in May 2004. She was found by local villagers who kept Violet for several months before volunteers working for the Orang-utan Foundation brought her to their refuge at Lemandau. Several hundred orang-utans, some only a few months old, are kept at the centre. Originally built to provide homes for around 150 animals, there are now more than 350 living there. "We are being swamped," said Ashley Leiman.
Once at the refuge, a young orang-utan is kept in quarantine - diseases such as hepatitis and diarrhoea are particular problems for the species - for a few weeks before they are allowed to have contact with other animals. Violet (seen here with one of the centre's volunteer carers) has now spent almost five years at the refuge and is approaching her seventh birthday, an age when orang-utans in the wild leave their mothers and fend for themselves.
To prepare Violet for a release into the wild, carers have been taking her and other orang-utan youngsters for forest training every day for the past few years. Each animal is looked after by an individual carer who tries to sharpen its survival skills. Bananas are hidden on tree branches, for example, so that youngsters have to learn to search for themselves.
Apart from the problem of habitat loss triggered by the clearing of plantations for oil palm and acacia plantations, forest fires have devastated the territories of hundreds of Borneo's and Sumatra's orang-utans and piled further pressure on the refuges which care for orphaned creatures. These currently provide homes for more than 800 apes, it is estimated.
"We are now stretched and are running up a backlog of animals that we are trying to prepare for release into the wild," added Leiman."
Friday, April 24, 2009
You know what it's like to sit in jail from shooting a chimpanzee and watch yourself on the 10 o' clock news? That's something I never thought I'd see, never ever in a thousand years," says 18-year-old Jason Coats, grinning and chuckling at the absurdity of it. "It shows me on the porch of our house, swinging my arms like the monkeys were swinging theirs. It looked kind of dumb, really."
Coats was picked up by detectives who came by his home in southern Jefferson County. It was Friday, May 18, a month after the incident. Because culpability wasn't at all clear, Jefferson County Prosecutor Bob Wilkins ordered an investigation, and at suppertime on a Friday, with Coats about to head out with his friends, the boot came down. The late-Friday arrest is an old prosecutor trick to force a suspect to linger in jail over the weekend before he or she can make bail. Jason's bond was set at $3,500. He was charged with destruction of property over $750 (Suzy), a felony; and animal abuse, a misdemeanor and an understatement. After all, the chimp was dead. If found guilty, Coats faces as much as a year in prison and a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor and up to five years and a $5,000 fine for the felony.
Coats, a high-school sophomore, is a tall, gangly kid with short peroxide-streaked hair, acne and small earrings. He does not look tough or menacing. When he found himself in the group holding cell with about 20 adults -- drunks, pimps, burglars -- he wasn't afraid. "The other prisoners," he says, still amused about his experience, "they gave me respect, I'll tell you that. I stepped on this guy's cot trying to get to my bunk, and he's, like, 'Man, what you steppin' on my cot for?' And this other guy sitting there, he says, 'Don't mess with him. He's the monkey murderer. Leave him alone -- he's crazy.' I said, 'Yeah, that's right. Leave me alone.'"
Coats was bonded out by 3:30 Saturday morning, thanks to Clinton Wright, an attorney with the Clayton law firm of Scott Rosenblum and Associates. Coats could go home to the modest little wood-frame house on Highway CC that he shared with his mom, Pat, and he could get some shut-eye. But when he woke at noon, he had become famous, and his name and face were all over the media. Not that most folks around Festus and Crystal City didn't already know he had shot and killed Suzy the chimp in his own front yard.
Mike and Connie Casey had seen to that.
Just down the road, maybe 125 yards from the Coats' home, is a 15-acre USDA-licensed facility, home to Mike and Connie Casey, 25 monkeys and 23 chimpanzees -- well, 22 now. Through their business, Chimparty, the Caseys provide the younger chimps as entertainment for parties, nursing homes, school assemblies and TV commercials. The chimps, retired performers and former pets, are particularly popular at children's birthday parties. The Caseys also run the Missouri Primate Foundation, essentially a sanctuary for unwanted chimpanzees.
A tall chain-link fence topped with barbed wire contains the menagerie within -- most of the time, at least. Soon after Suzy was killed, the section of fence facing Highway CC began to collect stuff. Neighbors and friends placed banners, wreaths, ribbons, crosses, notes and toy monkeys on and near the fence. Inside the fence, the Caseys erected a large sign. "In Loving Memory of Suzy," it reads. "Senselessly Murdered." It names Coats as the murderer -- "maliciously killing with no justification" -- and gives his full name and address. At the bottom is the parenthetical statement "He shot our dog in the leg 3 years ago." To make sure the sign is visible at all times, floodlights have been installed.
"First time I seen that sign down there, oh man, I wanted to go down and kick them lights out, rip the sign up," Coats declares. "Then I started thinking about it: 'Man, that's exactly what they want me to do. They're just trying to make me mad, trying to make me go down there and do something I normally wouldn't do.' Well, they can put up anything they want. I'll just laugh it off. Like these newspaper ads -- at first I got so mad, I couldn't even read them. Now I just laugh. What else can you do?"
During the month when Wilkins was making up his mind about whether to prosecute Coats, the Caseys carried out their own vendetta against the teenager, buying space in two local papers, promulgating much the same message as the sign in their yard, but with a photo of Suzy. The last ad announced a reward for information leading to the conviction of Suzy's killer -- an odd request, considering that the only question before the courts is whether Coats maliciously killed the chimp or acted in self-defense. They're also selling "Suzy the Chimp" T-shirts and keeping interested parties updated on the "Suzy Case File" with daily e-mails, sometimes several a day. Presumed sympathizers with e-monikers such as "spunkymunky," "circus lady" and "monkeymom" are treated to information on standard operating procedure in animal escapes as prescribed by the federal Animal Welfare Act, to the genetic closeness of apes and human beings and to baseless predictions that Coats' next victims will be humans.
When Coats was arrested, the Caseys felt vindicated but sorely disappointed in the charges. "This is a start," says Connie Casey, "but we are not satisfied with anything less than felony assault and felony animal abuse." They also want federal charges filed because the chimps are federally protected animals. "We will not let this die," she says.
Not surprisingly, Wright, Coats' attorney, thinks the Caseys aren't being very rational. "Jason's barely old enough to drive," says Wright, "and yet the Caseys and others expect him to behave with the responsibility of a 50-year-old, to know what to do when attacked by an animal that is far stronger and more lethal than your wildest dog."
The day Suzy was shot was "an average day," says Coats. "I wasn't in a bad mood or anything. We had just come from the Dairy Queen -- I work there, got some friends that work there. They gave me some food and a ride home." It was around 6 that evening when the four teens -- Coats, Kenny Wright, Steven Cluff and Amanda McCullough, who was driving -- arrived at Coats' home with music blaring from the Chevy Cavalier. They got a surprise. "We pull in my driveway, and there's monkeys," says Coats. "We were, like, 'Wow! There's monkeys in the driveway!' And one of them came up. He was all wiggling his arms, and it sounds kind of dumb, but his balls were all hanging out and we thought it was funny."
It wasn't funny for long.
It's unclear what set off the chimps. The teens may have teased or taunted the animals, or the chimps may have felt giddy or rambunctious in their state of freedom. Nevertheless, something about the loud music, the car or its occupants really excited the chimps, especially the big male, Coco. "We were laughing at him," says Coats, "and he came up to the window, started banging and screaming and baring his teeth. I don't know, it scared us." And Coats was well aware of the chimp fracas seven years earlier in the Mercers' trailer, behind his house.
The teens drove up the driveway, around to the back of the house. When they got out, says Coats, the chimps went to the car and started rocking it. The teens were no longer amused. They sensed aggression in the animals.
The three adult chimps -- Suzy, Gabby and Coco -- had escaped sometime earlier when Connie Casey, 52, mistakenly thought she had locked their cages after cleaning them. First they wandered to the home of J.C. and Joan Wills, who live between the Caseys and the Coatses. The Willses have lived there since 1968 and are used to the chimps. When Coco and the Willses' son, Skowie, were youngsters, Coco would wait for Skowie at the school-bus stop at the end of the driveway. After Skowie was dropped off, Coco, clad only in shorts, would undress the boy. Nimbly he would take off Skowie's shirt, undo his shoes, take off the shoes and socks, get the boy to where he was dressed just like Coco. It was a ritual they both loved. Those days were long gone. Now Coco was a full-grown 140-pound ape, not allowed to roam the neighborhood. In fact, none of the chimps was. Still, J.C. Wills wasn't surprised when the trio showed up at his door.
"The chimps come up on my front porch," says Wills, 62. "One opened the front door, looked in. I just hollered at him: 'Shoo, get outta here!' He played around the front porch for a while. Right about then, the kids drove up. They had that loud music going. The chimps went over, they pounded on the car like how they hit on stuff, you know. I would say it probably did scare them kids right off the bat, not knowing about the chimps and all that."
Connie Casey was soon on the trail of the wayward chimps. She showed up in the Coatses' yard with Greg Gambill and Mark Lahmann, contractors who happened to be working for her that day, carrying dart-loaded revolverlike tranquilizer guns. "We pulled in the driveway," remarks Lahmann, a hale, ruddy 38. "We seen Coco standing behind their car and these teenagers throwing rocks at him. The teenagers were hollering and cussing at him, just goin' off the wall, and Coco's just standing there, like, 'What're you guys up to?' We told them to either stay inside the car or go in the house. We had it under control."
The Coatses' gravel driveway forms a crescent, winding alongside and behind the house. On a recent afternoon, Jason Coats stands on the drive, about 20 feet from the back door, in the spot where McCullough's Cavalier was parked that day. "Here they came at us," he says excitedly. "We got out of the car, picked up a handful of rocks and tried to get them out of here. The monkeys picked up the rocks and threw them back at us! That blew my mind! I never threw a rock at an animal and then have it thrown back at me." He points to a busted double-pane window on the side of the house. "The big one did that," he notes.
Then Lucky compounded the chaos. Lucky is the Coatses' pooch, a medium-sized black-and-white mutt with maybe some collie in him. "I see all three of them coming at Lucky," says Coats, talking rapid-fire now. "He's a little dog, but he's a fighter. He's barking and nipping at them, and one of them threw Lucky about 10 feet. I thought they'd kill my dog. We stayed close to the car and grabbed some more rocks. I was pissed and scared. Then the big one, the male, charged. I get in the car, and something dark flashed over my shoulder. He was on the car. Then he was next to the car, pounding on the window -- bam, bam, bam! I was face to face with it -- screaming, swingin' his arms, baring his teeth, trying to break the window, it looked like. It was, hands down, the scariest thing of my entire life.
"After that happened, I was, like, 'This is enough. Something's gonna happen -- either we're gonna get hurt or killed. We got to get out of this car,'" he adds. "I told them to let me out, and I bolted for the house."
Gambill, 35, trim and sandy-haired, says he never saw the chimps act aggressively toward the teens, although he, Lahmann and Connie Casey arrived at the scene after the teens were already there. "The only aggression I seen at all was from the boys," says Gambill, "who at first was just cussin' and makin' threats until the point when Jason Coats decided that the dart guns weren't powerful enough to take care of the job -- for him."
Coats recalls his dash from the car to the back door of the house as a scene right out of a horror movie. "Everything was kind of in slow motion, and those monkeys were close and they were mad," he says. "When I got to the door, I was afraid I'd fumble the keys and they'd get me. I got inside and called 911, but I knew it's gonna take them forever to get here and my friends are still out in the car. I ran upstairs, loaded the 20-gauge."
"He come back out with a shotgun, trying to get a shot at them," says Lahmann. "I didn't actually ever think he would shoot. 'He's just goofin' off' was what I kind of thought at the time, because the owner's there and we're there ..."
"It was a bad situation, and they just made it worse," adds Gambill. "The whole time, we was beggin' 'em, 'Please go inside and let us handle it,' and Connie's crying, saying, 'Don't shoot our chimps.'"
At some point, Coats' three friends joined him in the house and then went out on the porch to see whether he was really going to "shoot the goddamn monkeys," as he promised. Connie Casey was trying valiantly to gain control of the situation. Her efforts weren't working too well. The chimps were scampering here and there. At times, they were running out onto the highway. They didn't want to be shot with ketamine hydrochloride from the dart guns the humans were carrying. Connie had already darted Suzy back at the compound, just before she took off. Then Lahmann got her a second time. Suzy ran to the front of the yard and sat there at the crest of a roadside ditch, in the shade of a bush.
"So we all moved toward the front of the house," says Lahmann, "and then Coats came off the porch with his gun there, into his yard there, and his buddies are on the porch, egging him on: 'Shoot the blankety-blank monkey!' And we're in between him and the chimp. He kept waving that gun around, trying to outmaneuver us."
When Casey saw Coats leveling his sights at Suzy, she says, she pleaded with him: "I begged him not to shoot. 'Please don't pull the trigger,' I said."
Jason pulled the trigger three times. The first round was birdshot. It hit the 28-year-old, 115-pound Suzy in the back, causing her to lunge forward, toward the drainage ditch. "It let out a monkey screech," recalls Coats. The second and third rounds were slugs, each a single ball of lead. The second shot hit her on the left side, spinning her around. He then chambered the third round. That one, fired when Suzy was lying on the ground, hit her in the face and took her lower jaw.
"It was hurt," offers Coats. "That's why I fired the other rounds. It's never right for an animal to suffer. I asked Connie Casey -- did she want me to take that animal out of its misery?"
Casey says Coats said nothing of the kind. Instead, she says, he aimed the shotgun at her and told her to get the hell out of the way. "I never pointed the gun at her," insists Coats, "and the safety was on until the moment I pulled the trigger."
J.C. Wills showed up: "I heard the shots, and I said, 'Holy shit!' Then I went over there and asked him what in the hell he's doing. He says, 'Oh, I had to protect my buddies. I had to get them in the house.' I said, 'Hell, you was already in the house. You was all upstairs looking out the window.' He didn't have to shoot that chimp, you know? He was just kind of showing off."
Meanwhile, says Casey, when she tried to move the stricken Suzy to the rear of the pickup, Coats ordered her to leave the chimp there. "I did tell her not to touch it," he affirms. "My dad told me, 'If you shoot something and it dies on your property, that's your evidence.' Then, when police come, they know where it happened and maybe what happened."
But Casey defied Coats' command. Gabby and Coco went to Suzy's side. They were panting on her and licking her, trying to comfort her. The workmen tried to get Suzy into the truck and to shield Coco and Gabby from Coats and his gun. "After shooting the first chimp," says Gambill, "he threatened to kill the rest: 'I'm gonna shoot 'em all,' he's yelling. 'Get out of my way so I can shoot.' We continued to stay between him and the chimps. And at one point he was on the roof with that gun, trying to get a better angle."
Suzy didn't die for another two hours, not until Tom "Butch" Jones, a veterinarian, arrived from his clinic in Crystal City and decided to euthanize her. She had had a baby just three weeks earlier.
The locals call them monkeys, but in fact they are apes -- tail-less primates that include chimps, gorillas and orangutans. The chimpanzee or, as Linneas might say, Pan trogolodytes, hails from the thick rainforests and woodlands of equatorial Africa. They are a sociable species, living in family units, and are considered the closest living relatives of human beings. And they act like humans: A baby chimp laughs when it is tickled. After chimps fight, they kiss and make up. Chimpanzees also are the only animals that make tools, and, like humans, they have the capacity to solve problems and to plan ahead. They are one of the few animals able to recognize themselves in a mirror. Chimps subsist on vegetation, fruit and insects, but sometimes they form hunting parties and prey on other animals for food. An adult male chimpanzee stands 3 to 4 feet tall and weighs up to 140 pounds but is stronger than a muscular 6-foot man."The adult male chimpanzee is five times as strong as a human," says Frans deWaal, 52, a professor of psychology at Emory University and research primatologist with the Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta. "Long ago in the U.S.," he explains, "experiments were done that compared the chimp male's arm strength -- pulling strengths -- to that of a college football player's, and that was the proven ratio: 5-to-1. There's no way a man -- Arnold Schwarzenegger; you name the man -- there's no way he's going to hold his own against the male chimpanzee.
"It's an extremely unfortunate circumstance," says deWaal after being told the details of Suzy's death. "If the kids had not been there, they would have tranquilized the chimps, and nothing would've happened. But the kids, being kids, they were not able to sit and be patient -- because that's what they should have done, of course, just stayed in the car, turned the music down and waited until things calmed down.
"They could have gotten killed," continues deWaal. "Normally, in a situation like that when they're loose, if familiar people approach them, especially people they like, and they act calmly, then the chimps will also act calmly. And tranquilizing may not even be necessary. But if strangers throw stones at them, yeah, they're going to throw stones back. The dog probably also did not help, because chimps hate dogs in general. And when you agitate them, they become even more dangerous. So the approach to take is to try to calm them down. But, you know, that's hard to expect from a 17-year-old who has never been around a chimp.
"Though I don't sympathize with people carrying guns and shooting at things," deWaal surmises, "it seems unfair to lay all the blame on the boy. I think there's blame on both sides. If these people have 23 chimps over there, they have an obligation to inform the community about what it means when a chimp escapes or to make sure it doesn't happen at all."
Mike Casey hasn't seen the need to educate his neighbors about the chimps: "It happens so rarely and because everybody here has grown up with the chimps."
Like most primate researchers, deWaal disavows the practice of showing chimps for entertainment, such as the events put on by Chimparty. "I think it's degrading for the chimps to be dressed up as clowns, almost," he says. "I don't think that's funny at all."
It's comments such as this one -- along with all the publicity from Suzy's shooting -- that have prompted the Caseys to retool the image of Chimparty. Started in 1992, Chimparty has allowed thousands of kids and adults to get up close and personal with a chimpanzee. No more, says Mike Casey. "Chimparty is no longer going to do chimp parties per se," he says. "We intend to apply for nonprofit status. We're thinking of opening to the public on an appointment basis. We may accept college students who want to do behavioral studies. We're going to reach out to touch a different side of the community.
"Don't get me wrong," he goes on, "everything about Chimparty was great. I mean, it was started because we thought, 'Most people go through their whole life without ever getting to see a chimp, unless it's behind glass or bars at a zoo.' And we thought, 'What better way to create awareness than through hands-on learning, and let people see that this is a special creature that we really do need to be concerned about, rather than just some name on a list?' But Chimparty, even though the name was appealing to the masses, I think you still have some people thinking, 'Oh, chimps on roller skates,' and that kind of thing."
It is a sunny weekday morning in June and, though Suzy is dead, life goes on for the primates in this bucolic enclave. Most of the hirsute inhabitants are in the large indoor-outdoor habitat that connects to the Casey's home. Like the ape house at the St. Louis Zoo, visitors watch the apes through thick glass. Out on the expansive yard are several open-air corn cribs, in which one or two chimps may be seen sunning or exercising. In the midst of it all is a manicured pond whose banks are watched over by life-size sculptures of chimps and a gorilla. The place has the feel of a Club Med for primates.
Mike Casey, 38, a burly fellow with short, dark hair and a T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of a chimp, ponders this for a moment: "I think that's he's a prime candidate for what the Humane Society of the United States calls their 'first-strike candidate,' which deals specifically with people that cross the line from animal abuse to school shootings," he says. "All of them started out with animal abuse. You know, a guy stopped by here and said taking Jason's shotgun away won't matter because he has a whole closet full of guns. So does that fit the profile of another school shooter? Yeah, I think, absolutely. I mean, he shot a chimp. How much closer to a human can you get?"Source
1. In 2007, The European Union Parliament voted to support a ban on all primate research with a 5-6 year phase out. Although the vote is non-binding, it acts as a strong recommendation to the EU Commission
that governs research. It also shows that a majority of EU legislators don't see that the medical merits of primate research outweigh the cruelty to the animals.
2. By contrast, Harvard has increased its number of primates by at least 10-15% in the last 10 years (it is hard to give exact figures because Harvard recordkeeping is so varied that one year recently they had a "discrepancy" of 1200 primates).
3. Harvard is one of the few medical institutions in the country to still use electric shock on primates. One of the most common uses of electric shock is as a threat to force monkeys to take addictive drugs. Denial of food is another "methodology" used to force monkeys to take drugs.
4. Harvard seems to thrive on addicting animals to recreational drugs, having published over 75 papers on cocaine addiction alone. One does not have to be a graduate of Harvard to realize that studying recreational drug use in species who do not naturally take those drugs and who are forced to take them is both just plain sick
5. In 2004, a monkey choked to death at Harvard because he/she (sorry for the lack of gender specificity but the USDA report calls the poor animal "it") suffocated on a piece of plastic tubing while locked alone in a restraint chair while the vivisector literally went to lunch. Weak as the AWA (Animal Welfare Act) is, even it forbids leaving a primate alone in a restraint chair. Somehow we doubt that that vivisector was going out for a veggie burger.
6. NERPRC's Director Ronald Derosiers was on the "scientific advisory" board that claimed that the BU bioterror lab was both essential and safe. In conversations that we have had with a Boston Globe reporter, we've learned that NERPRC has claimed that they "did not, do not, and will never" have any financial connection
to the Bioterror lab. This is more than a little bit odd because Desrosiers has admitted publicly that BU had promised NERPRC 3.1 million dollars to build a lab to "produce" primates for BU's bioterror lab. If they can't tell the truth about money, they won't tell the truth about anything else either.
7. Primates in labs suffer health problems and stress-related problems unknown in wild primates. Basic science says that experiments can only have one independent variable: if an animal is already sick or extremely stressed out (stress impairs the immune system), then experiments with this animal have multiple independent
variables. In simple terms, the science sucks. It is so severe of a problem in lab animal populations that in 2003, 20% of the primates at NERPRC were involved in studies not of human health problems but
of lab animal health problems!
8. That same study revealed that 89% of those primates suffered "psychological abnormalities"suffered "psychological abnorm and 1 in 9 injured themselves badly enough to need stitches. Bizarrely, monkeys that pulled their own hair weren't even counted as injuring themselves (Lutz, Well, and Novak 2003.
9. No laws regulate what actually happens in experiments. This is left up to in-house supposedly independent IACU committees that are supposed to review studies for animal cruelty (not that they'd ever use that word.) The industry argues that these committees prevent abuses and assure that animals are not harmed. In the 2004-2006 period, Harvard Medical School accumulated 11 violations of the AWA directly related to these IACU committees. This means that either the committees failed to do their job properly or that the vivisectors
blatantly ignored the committees. This just proves what many animal law experts have repeatedly stated: no laws or regulations whatsoever really control what happens to animals in labs.
10. If you took PSYCH 101, you may remember the notorious Milgram experiments in which humans were manipulated into "shocking" subjects in supposed "negative reinforcement" experiments. The "shocking" was
faked by professional actors out of sight of the subjects so no one was actually harmed in an experiemnt designed to see how far people would go in obeying authority even when it had destructive consequences. In multiple versions of the experiment done for decades around the world, between 60-65% of the subjects would have actually knowingly killed the other person if the shocks were real. In one version, 93% would have killed the other person. The only pressure on the human subjects was peer pressure.
By contrast, some sick soul designed a test (at we're sure taxpayer expense) to see if monkeys would shock other monkeys in order to get food. If they shocked the other monkey, they got food; if they didn't
shock the monkey they didn't eat. Multiple monkeys refused to harm the other monkey even though it meant that they would go hungry. One monkey went 4 days straight without food (by comparison this would be
like us going 20 days without food) rather than harm another monkey and several went 2 days. Observations of chimps (Note-Harvard has no chimps that we know of) in the wild have shown that they take special
care of group members with disabilities such as cerebral palsy with even the alpha males taking time to groom and nurture a monkey with cerebral palsy.
Our whole human justification for subjecting these animals to the brutal nightmare of their squandered existence is that we are morally superior to them and can do what we want to them. Don't these 3
studies show the lie behind all vivisection?
Please join us this Saturday at Harvard to protest these atrocities."
Now -- according to the Kentucky based Primate Rescue Center -- two recent chimp attacks are linked to a Festus business called Chimparty.
Center founder April Truitt told Fox 2 that Chimp-party sold the chimp in February's Stamford, CT rampage. Truitt told us Chimparty also sold the Pet Chimpanzee in last month's Winston, Mo attack -- that ended when a police officer shot it to protect himself.
Jason Coats said that's what he had to do back in 2001.
He said, "Just hearing them gives me the chills."
Several Chimparty chimps escaped and roamed into his Mom's yard. At first he thought it was funny, until he said one of the animals pounded on his friend's car -- while they were all inside.
Coats said, "[The chimp] was rocking the car back and forth, windmilling on the windows."
Then he said his dog, lucky, tried protecting them. He said, "I'm thinking he's going to run them off. Well, about this time, he bites the one, Suzie, in the butt and it actually tore a piece of his flesh off and at that point he kind of screamed and reached around and grabbed him threw him across the back yard and I realized they're going to kill my dog."
He shot one of the chimps. Then a jury convicted him of felony animal abuse and sent him to jail for a month. A neighbor had testified that the chimps owners were trying to get the animals back into the Chimparty complex and they'd already been tranquilized.
Coats added, "Up until when I got attacked, I always thought it was kinda cool living next door to them. You know, who gets to live next door to basically an exotic farm?"
That might be why other exotics are showing up where you don't expect it. People think it's cool, until they realize they can't handle a wild animal. Like an alligator that showed up on Pacific pet shop owner Mike Pigg's door step.
Pigg said, "There's a cardboard box. I thought it'd be puppies or kittens. It was an american alligator."
He says he won't resell it, because it's just mean.
"Eventually that alligator will get big enough you know you're in deep trouble," he said.
Then two weeks after the gator delivery? "I come to work -- there's a pillow case on my door handle. I open the pillow case and there was a snake."
It's just too easy to own an exotic animal in Missouri. Pigg added, "I guarantee you a lot of people would be surprised on what their neighbor has in their house."
Macon, MO holds regular auctions. You can buy just about anything.
While Fox 2 has reported on many past auctions, owner Jim Lolli would not allow cameras this year. He told us he wants to protect the identity of customers who want to keep exotic animals without you knowing about it.
The Humane Society's Debbie Hill said, "It's frighteningly easy to obtain an exotic animal in Missouri and there is very little knowledge or enforcement of the current law."
That law? Only that you tell police you have an exotic animal. Hill believes stricter laws would help discourage people from thinking they can tame a wild beast.
"Simply raising an animal from infancy does not mean you have domesticated that animal. It is still a wild animal. A tiger is still a tiger. A chimpanzee is still a chimpanzee."
That's how Jason Coats said he looked at it when he saw wild chimps in his yard. He was only 17 when he was forced into a decision he wishes he never had to make.
Coats added, "There's a lot of people trying to protect the chimps but there's not a lot of people trying to protect the next 17 year old that's going to be attacked or the next poor woman trying to help someone reign in a chimp."
No one from Chimparty would respond to our phone calls or our personal visit. The Primate Rescue Center said Missouri is one of the worst three state at regulating the ownership of exotic animals -- along with Texas and Florida. Missouri Legislators are currently looking at two new bills that would add guidelines and restrictions."
Get this The chimpanzee who went crazy in Connecticut last week is the son of a chimp who also escaped and was shot by a neighbor. Unlike the Connecticut story, however, nobody was hurt in 2001. And unlike the Connecticut story, the 17-year-old who killed the rampaging chimp in 2001 was convicted for it:
According to published reports, Travis' mother, named Suzy, was shot and killed following an escape and rampage in 2001. Suzy was living on the Missouri ranch where Travis was adopted from by Sandra Herold when he was 3 days old.
The New York Daily News reported that Suzy was shot by a teenager after escaping the ranch and wreaking havoc. The primate's death reportedly captivated the Missouri town of Festus and led to a trial that ended with the conviction of the chimp's killer.
And here's a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story from the 2001 incident. An excerpt:
There are differing accounts of the events that led up to the death of the
animal. Suzie and the other chimps escaped after Connie Casey failed to
properly secure the lock on their cages, she admits. Mike Casey was out of
town with other animals, making a TV commercial.
The animals left the Casey property and soon were in the nearby yard of the
house where the youth lives.
He arrived home with friends and killed the chimp soon thereafter, he told
Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputies.
Authorities say the boy told deputies that his friends were trapped in the
truck by the three apes, which, he said, were aggressive and threatening
and that he was forced to protect them with a gun.
Reached by telephone at home earlier this week, the youth refused to
comment. He will be retaining a lawyer, he says.
But witnesses said the killing of the ape appeared unnecessary. J.C. Wills,
a man whose house is only yards from where the shooting took place, said
the youth's statements to police were untrue.
The youth and his friends, who had driven up in a truck while Connie Casey
was pursuing the animals, had all gone safely into the house, Wills says.
Only then, he said, did the youth emerge with a shotgun.
"We told those boys to go in their house and stay there, and they won't
have any problems, but instead, one of them gets a gun and comes out,"
"That chimp had been shot with a tranquilizer dart and was no harm to
anyone, but he shot him three times with a shotgun."
A woman who slowed down to see the commotion as she drove by the house saw
Suzie in the yard and the boy with the shotgun on the porch and guessed
trouble was brewing.
"I saw the chimpanzee sitting under a bush near the road, and I knew it was
under control," said Christine Thomas, who lives nearby.
"But then I saw that boy on the porch with his friends, and they had a gun;
and I knew what they were going to do."
Thomas says it was obvious that the youths were in no danger.
I say give the kid a new trial, but I also wonder what would have happened if a neighbor had shot the Connecticut ape prior to it attacking? I assume we'd be at the same place as in the 2001 incident where the owner would make the argument that there was "no danger."