Tag Archives | chimps

Lawsuit Seeks “Legal Personhood” Rights For Captive Chimps

chimpsDo basic human rights extend to other animals with human-like cognitive abilities?The New York Times reports:

Should a captive chimpanzee have the same rights as a “legal person”? That’s the debate set to unfold after an activist group filed lawsuits on behalf of four chimpanzees, asking the New York Supreme Court to grant them the “right to bodily liberty.”

“We’ll be asking judges to recognize, for the first time, that these cognitively complex, autonomous beings have the basic legal right to not be imprisoned,” said Steven M. Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project.

The four chimpanzees are all held in New York state. Tommy, 26, is living in a cage on a trailer lot in Gloversville. Kiko, 26, formerly worked in the entertainment industry and is now living in Niagara Falls on private property, where he is caged. Hercules and Leo, two young males, are used in research in the Anatomy Department at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook.

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Chimps Easily Beat Humans In Complex Numeric Memory Tests

chimpsVia the Guardian, powerful mental abilities we ironically have lost through evolution:

In a landmark test of short-term memory conducted in public in 2007, the young chimp Ayumu demonstrated astonishing powers of recall, easily beating his human competitors, who had been in training for months.

“We’ve concluded through the cognitive tests that chimps have extraordinary memories,” Matsuzawa says. “They can grasp things at a glance. As a human, you will never be a match.”

Why do the latter have such vastly superior working memories? As humans evolved and acquired new skills – notably the ability to use language to communicate and collaborate –they lost others they once shared with their common simian ancestors.

The institute’s researchers are trying to find how far Ayumu can go before he falters. In the most recent tests, the number of digits [shown for a split second] has been increased from 1-9 to 1-19.

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Chimps Attacking Humans In Revenge For Habitat Destruction?

Does this portend a future war between apes and humanity? Local media in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are interpreting a spate of chimp violence perpetrated against people as motivated by revenge. Via New Scientist:

Habitat loss may be to blame for an apparent spate of violent attacks by chimpanzees on humans in the war-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mistrust of chimpanzees has been heightened by local media reports, which suggest that as many as 10 people have been killed and 17 injured by chimps, in acts that were reported as “revenge attacks” for people encroaching on their territory.

Klaus Zuberbuhler, a psychologist at the University of St Andrews in Fife, UK, and scientific director of the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda, says restricting the chimps’ habitat can certainly affect their behaviour, though it is debatable whether the chimps’ aggression towards humans is a form of revenge.

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Chimp ‘Secret Handshakes’ May Be Cultural

Isn’t culture supposed to be what separates us from the animals? Now what does humanity have that sets us apart, just toilets and puns? Live Science writes:

These chimp handshakes, which are seen only among some of the primates, seem to differ from group to group in ways that aren’t dependent on genetics or environment. That leaves cultural differences between groups as a possible explanation.

This behavior was first seen in a group of chimps in Tanzania, and has been observed in at least 15 other groups as well. The fact that the behavior is long-lasting and appears to be passed down through generations suggests that the handshakes may be a rudimentary form of culture.

Two groups [observed over several years] were big into hand-clasping, but there were differences. Group 1 almost always grasped their hands palm-to-palm, while Group 2 hooked their wrists around each other instead. The researchers have also observed young chimpanzees learning the hand clasps from their elders.

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Chimps Construct Ladder, Escape From German Zoo

Watch your back, because the zoo animals we imprison are plotting against us and growing smarter by the day. Is it morally acceptable to hold in bondage creatures intelligent enough to craft tools and devise a path to freedom? Via Digital Journal:

Five chimps caused panic at a German zoo after they escaped using a ladder constructed out of tree branches. In a separate incident, police in Las Vegas shot and killed a chimp and tranquilized another after they escaped.

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