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!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Linking Primates and Humans

Humans nothing special, says expert

Last updated 08:20 24/03/2009

Linking primates and humans

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Human claims of uniqueness over animals do not stack up, a leading psychologist and primatologist reckons.

And the fact that a chimpanzee in Sweden is piling up rocks to throw at zoo visitors is nothing special, says Frans de Waal, professor of primate behaviour at Emory University in Atlanta.

Tagged by Time magazine as one of the most influential 100 people of 2007, he is here to give Auckland University's Sir Douglas Rob Lectures this week.

He said most animals had similar brain structures to humans and experienced emotion and empathy as well.

"The uniqueness claims of humanity have a bad track record," he said in an interview.

Over four decades various claims had been made over animals such as they could not develop tools for later use only to have them shot down by animals doing what people said they could not.

"It is a chronic under-estimation of animals which is partly a product of religion. Religions tell us we are the only ones with souls," he said.

"And partly it is the behaviorist tradition which tries to reduce everything to trial and error learning so that for emotions and feelings and planning and thinking there was no room in animals at all."

All kinds of animals, it had now been discovered, could use tools. A more recent example were crows in New Caledonia, found to have used sticks to extract food from feeders.

Dr de Waal was not as impressed with Swedish chimpanzee Santino as some commentators, who saw in him human characteristics.

Researchers found that Santino, the dominant male chimp at Furuvik Zoo in Gavle, was stockpiling rocks and breaking off pieces of concrete to throw at visitors.

Dr de Waal said male chimps more usually threw faeces at visitors.


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