The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Can Chimps Count

By Bill and Rich Sones

Question: Chimpanzee named "Sheba" learned to recognize numbers 1-8. But did she know 5 gumdrops are better than 2?

Answer: Gumdrop lover, she would pick the bigger gumdrop array every time, says Dennis Coon in "Introduction to Psychology."

But then researchers tricked her: When she picked the larger array, now they would give these to a fellow chimp, leaving the smaller bunch for Sheba. "Sheba became visibly agitated at this foul turn of events."

Again and again the testers did this, but Sheba never caught on to pick the smaller array. Yet when numbers were used instead of gumdrops, Sheba proved she knew the rule: Now she would select the smaller number to go to the other chimp, leaving more for herself.

The researchers reasoned that chimps living in the wild are genetically programmed to go for more food. Sheba couldn't rise above the allure of seemingly more gumdrops, even though picking the bigger bunch backfired. But freed to think abstractly - in numbers alone - she could do this.

And, says Coon, doesn't Sheba's behavior underscore the tremendous power we humans enjoy as a symbol-using species?


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