Wednesday, November 27, 2002

WHAT IS HUMAN?

huMouseTM
A design for creatures that are half man, half animal has raised fundamental questions about what it means to be human. Two critics of biotechnology want the U.S. Patent Office to answer them.
By Dashka Slater

...Five years ago, he submitted a patent application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a chimera, a creature that would be made by melding human and animal embryos. Concoctions included the huMouse, a mixture of man and mouse; the humanzee, a cross between a human and chimpanzee; and blends of human with pig and human with baboon. The chimeras—named after the mythical Greek monster with a goat's body, a lion's head, and a serpent's tail—could potentially be used to study embryonic development, raise organs for transplants, or test new drugs.

The chimeras' real purpose, however, is their shock value. If the notion of human-ape half-breeds rising from the laboratory makes your stomach churn and your mind reel, then the monsters are serving their creator's subversive goals....

...by applying for a patent the pair hopes to prevent anyone else from making one....

Really the ideal model for the study of the human brain is... the human brain. Dr. Ray Greek, president of Americans For Medical Advancement: "In the 1800s or 1900s, you could pretty much cut animals up as you wanted. But now the things we can do with functional magnetic resonance imaging means today we can do a lot of things to intact humans that we have been doing on open monkey brains."

A PROBLEM WITH PRIMATE EXPERIMENTATION

Steve Connor: The primate paradox that makes experiments on monkeys both necessary and controversial

At the heart of the debate over using monkeys in scientific research is the primate paradox: their closeness to humans makes them the ideal experimental model for the study of the brain, yet because they look so much like us, they also appear to feel pain in the same way....

In Britain, experiments involving the higher primates – great apes such as chimps and gorillas – have been banned, even though in theory their brains would be better experimental models than those of monkeys.

The scientific consensus in the UK – but not in the US – appears to be that chimps are just too close to man to justify using them as experimental "guinea pigs". Laboratory chimps, for instance, can show total terror at the sight a man in a white coat holding a hypodermic needle – any parent of a child waiting to vaccinated would empathise with that....

WHAT IS CULTURE?

Crashing the culture club
Animals may pass down 'traditions,' but is it culture?
By Cynthia Mills, Globe Correspondent, 11/26/2002

In the rainforests of Africa, when the rains come, chimpanzees dance. No one knows why they do it, but they do. And different chimpanzee groups dance with different styles. In Gombe National Park in Tanzania, the chimp rain dance is loud and frenzied. In Tai Forest National Park in the Ivory Coast, the chimpanzees dance in silent slow motion, mimicking the movements of aggression displays, like a great ape version of Tai Chi....

Could animals be more complex than we thought? Could they be capable of culture - maybe not ballet or Beethoven, but something similar to what we have? What is culture, anyway? The most basic definition states that culture is behavior that is learned from another species member: It is not instinctive or hard-wired; it is not passed on genetically. As Frans de Waal, ethologist and author of ''The Ape and the Sushi Master,'' stated: ''The critical issue is: Is there knowledge and behavior being transmitted from one generation to the next?'' His answer: There is, and, thus, in his opinion, animals have culture....

Primatologists studying chimpanzees have tallied 65 separate behaviors that are either done differently by different troops, or done by some but not all troops.

Chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania start mutual grooming fests by clasping each other's hands in a chimpanzee high-five. Chimps in Kibale National Park in Uganda groom clasped hand to foot; Gombe chimps do neither. Tai chimps use twigs to catch ants and then lick the ants off the twig. Gombe chimps wipe the ants off the twigs with their fingers first, before transferring them to their mouths....

Some chimpanzees use a combination of a stone hammer and wood or stone anvil to crack palm nuts. Some chimps even add a third element, a stone, to stabilize the anvil. Still, that is nowhere near even the most simple of human cultures.

But human culture had to start somewhere - and most ethologists believe we can see that start mirrored in animal cultures. They believe what Darwin said in ''The Descent of Man'': ''The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.''

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

A CLOSER LOOK AT PRIMATE RESEARCH

WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE
Seattle is home to 800 nonhuman primates, but the University of Washington won't let anyone see them. Here's why.
BY PHILIP DAWDY

...Nationally, there are pressure groups on both sides of the cold war. The National Association for Biomedical Research and the Foundation for Biomedical Research, both pro-research groups, try to influence public opinion through educational outreach and advertisements. The former group also lobbies Congress to not tighten restrictions on the use of animals in research.

PITTED AGAINST THEM are groups like the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The Humane Society, a moderate group, focuses its efforts on incremental legislative change. PETA, a more radical group, agitates for an immediate end to animal research.

Researchers are largely winning the war by dint of the fact that, each year, they are doing more research on more primates.

But earlier this year, In Defense of Animals, a California-based animal-rights group, won an unprecedented victory--it essentially forced the closure of a primate research facility in New Mexico.

Known as the Coulston Foundation, it was home to several hundred chimpanzees and had been fined three times by the USDA for violations of federal regulations. For example, a chimp had died after being left outside in desert heat. Still, NIH continued to fund Coulston. In Defense of Animals applied so much pressure through Congress that, in 2001, NIH finally pulled its money out of the research facility. Early this year, the foundation's bank called in a loan, putting the facility out of business. A Florida sanctuary acquired the last of the Coulston chimpanzees in September....

There is some evidence that the research community has begun to soften its stance.

Until recently, if researchers were finished using a primate in AIDS-related work, they would simply kill the animal, even if it had shrugged off the illness. It was infected with a form of HIV and that made it a time bomb around other primates. That put researchers--and particularly NIH--in a bind. Many of the animals infected with HIV were chimpanzees, and they didn't progress to full-blown AIDS, making them lousy research models from a scientific perspective. Still, the chimps were infected with HIV. Could NIH justify killing these highly intelligent creatures?

A National Research Council panel found that the agency had a moral obligation to keep the animals alive in recognition of their high intelligence and intricate social lives. In 2000, Congress passed the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act, which set up a system of sanctuaries for the 1,300 retired chimps still in NIH's hands. The first 200 chimps will be retired to a sanctuary in Louisiana in 2004.

Monday, November 25, 2002

INDIAN CIRCUS KEEPING CHIMPANZEE CHAINED BY THE NECK

Hippo, chimp to be moved to Chhat Bir
Jangveer Singh Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
The issue of animals being kept in small cages and the custody of a near-blind hippopotamus with the Jumbo Circus, currently camping in the city, has taken a new turn. The district administration has written to the District Forest Officer (DFO) and the Director, Chhatbir Zoological Park, to immediately transfer the hippopotamus and the sole chimpanzee with the circus to the zoological park....

He said he had also received reports that the hippopotamus was virtually blind and needed urgent medical attention and the chimpanzee was being kept in a small cage with an iron ring around his neck....

Saturday, November 23, 2002

WHAT IS ART?

They're chimps, they paint. But is it art?
MARK ABLEY The Gazette

A group show opens this morning in an upscale Toronto gallery - a show made up of paintings by seven artists who live on Montreal's South Shore. But the artists won't be at the opening.

It's not because they have HIV (though many do). It's not because they haven't signed their works (though none can write). It's not because they have an aversion to finger food (that's all they eat).

It's because the artists are chimpanzees.

"Sacrificed Lives: The Art of the Captive Chimpanzee" is, in fact, a fundraiser. To purchase one of the works on display, you'd pay between $700 and $1,200.

Proceeds will go toward an extension of the chimpanzees' house in the semi-rural surroundings of Carignan on the South Shore of Montreal. Fourteen chimpanzees are lucky enough to reside there, looked after by the trained volunteers of the Fauna Foundation....

Thursday, November 21, 2002

DOGS UNDERSTAND US BETTER

Studies Seek Origin of Domestic Dogs
By KARL RITTER, Associated Press Writer

...According to that project, researchers in the United States and Germany said dogs were much better than wolves and chimpanzees in finding food hidden in one of two containers using social cues from humans.

In tests, people reached toward, gazed at or marked a food container with a wooden block. The dogs — even puppies — outperformed the other animals, indicating the domestication process had made them more skilled at understanding human communication, the study said.

CHIMPANZEE LAUGHTER

A giggling rat? What is next?
By VALLEY 101

Can animals laugh?

Sure. Haven't you ever heard the expression, "That was so funny it would make a sick cat laugh?" On the other hand, I don't believe I've ever heard a cat laugh, sick or not.

Scientists have known for some time, although nobody told me about it until recently, that chimpanzees and some monkeys make a kind of panting sound that sort of sounds like laughter when tickled. If you think it would be weird to tickle a chimpanzee, wait until we get to the part about the rats.

Chimps also make this sound when roughhousing or playing chasing games. In evolutionary terms, it's probably some sort of behavior to let other chimps know that you're just playing and not really fighting....

Monday, November 18, 2002

CHIMPANZEE HABITAT ILLEGALLY LOGGED

Budongo Plunder

Kampala, Nov 18, 2002 (New Vision/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- A new report released by a British researcher, Benjamin Singer, on Budongo forest is a bombshell. "Some of the foresters are collaborators in these illegal activities and it is done right from Forestry Department headquarters, not here in Masindi," the report says....

Conservationists fear that the excessive logging of Mahogany will have damaging consequences on endangered species....

Why is Budongo a big deal? Birdlife International recently declared it an important bird area and the World Wide Fund for Nature classified it among one of the 200 most valuable ecological regions worldwide, says Singer.

It also harbours over 300 bird species, 600 chimpanzees and 866 plant species, 419 butterflies and moths. But illegal logging, charcoal burning and encroachment threaten it.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

CHIMPANZEES ARE BEING CHIMPANZEES AT FLORIDA SANCTUARY

Working for chimp change

[Photo] Chimps [who] had been used for research eat a treat of watermelon rinds recently at the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care near Fort Pierce. Dr. Carole Noon, a biological anthropologist, founded the center as a refuge for the chimps, most of whom have spent their lives as test subjects for the space program or medical research.

By COLETTE BANCROFT, Times Staff Writer © St. Petersburg Times published November 15, 2002

Inspired by Jane Goodall, Dr. Carole Noon creates a home for ''retired'' chimpanzees where they can eat, sleep, and generally give an opposable thumbs-up to their private island....

The Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care is tucked amid orange groves and cattle ranches in western St. Lucie County. From nearby roads, you would never know it was there, and that's the intention.

The center is not a zoo. At this point it's not open to the public at all, although there are plans for a museum and education center. Its purpose is to provide a sanctuary where chimps who cannot be released in the wild can live out their lives in a semblance of natural conditions.

"The idea is for these chimps to be chimps," Noon says. "They've earned it."

Seeing 20 adult chimpanzees from a few yards away is an amazing experience, even though there are two fences between them and the humans watching them, an industrial-strength fence about 20 feet high and a shorter one to keep the resident dogs and careless visitors away from the chimps' fingers.

These are formidable animals. Forget those darling baby chimps in diapers that make everyone want one for a pet. They outgrow that stage much faster than human babies do; by age 3, a chimp is as strong as an adult human.

These adolescents and adults range in age from 10 to 41. They weigh 90 to 170 pounds, stand approximately 5 feet tall, have a reach a prizefighter would envy and, as is clear when a couple of them start squabbling, boast a scary set of teeth....

It's hard to say which is more of a curse: chimps' similarities to humans or their differences. They share much more with us than expressive faces, intense social relationships, tool use and opposable thumbs. Our DNA and theirs are 98.6 percent the same; they are more closely related to us than they are to gorillas or orangutans.

They are so similar to humans in size and physiology that they have long been considered invaluable research subjects. They are different enough -- that 1.4 percent -- that researchers could justify treating them in ways no human test subject would be treated....

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

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HELPING TO REHABILITATE FORMER LAB CHIMPANZEES

SC's Psychology Department Initiates 'Project New Beginning'

WINFIELD, Kan. -- The department of psychology at Southwestern College is initiating Project New Beginning, a drive to assist in the rehabilitation efforts of 266 chimpanzees and 61 monkeys that have recently been retired from research.

James Nolan, assistant professor of psychology, and Claudia Geer, associate professor of psychology, are hoping to acquire much-needed supplies for the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care project, Alamogordo, N.M....

Nolan says that the Southwestern project is spurred by the September closure of the Coulston Foundation primate-testing laboratory in Alamogordo. The lab specialized in all types of research including insecticide, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical developments, and various biomedical procedures....

"Thousands of non-human primates are living in research laboratories. Some are treated ethically while others are not," says Geer. "Those at the Coulston facility have suffered some of the worst conditions and handling possible. Our goal is to assist the rehabilitation effort in the hope that these chimpanzees and monkeys may live the remainder of their lives in sanctuaries."

The Chimpanzee Collaboratory, a group of attorneys, scientists and public policy experts working together to improve the welfare and upgrade the legal status of great apes, says their similarity to humans has contributed to the problem of abuse: "Because of [the] similarities, chimpanzees are used and abused by humans in the name of science, entertainment and education. Conveniently however, they are seen by society to be just different enough that they have been deprived of the most basic legal rights."...

FUNDRAISING FOR NEW AFRICAN SANCTUARY

Local Companies Fund Chimp Sanctuary

Kampala, Nov 09, 2002 (New Vision/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- THE Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), an international non-government organisation has started a local fundraising drive in a bid to establish a new chimpanzee sanctuary, reports Gerald Tenywa....

Monty said Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Lake Victoria was too congested and that another sanctuary was needed to house the increasing number of orphan chimps rescued from smugglers....

Chimpanzees don't get AIDS. Why should a chimpanzee-tested vaccine work in humans? Roll the dice...

COMPANY TRIES AIDS VACCINE ON HUMANS AFTER CHIMPANZEE STUDIES

Against the Odds, Company Works on AIDS Vaccine
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dr. Donald Francis is feeling combative these days. His company, VaxGen, is about to find out whether what could prove to be the first-ever AIDS (news - web sites) vaccine actually works. Results from the trial, which started in June 1998, will be unveiled and analyzed early next year.

Hardly anyone thinks it will work....

"I'm confident from the chimpanzees that the vaccine will be efficacious. The question is, how efficacious," he said....

Saturday, November 09, 2002

WILDLIFE WAYSTATION OWNER SURRENDERS LICENSE

Feds bust Wildlife Waystation
By Kerry Cavanaugh Staff Writer

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST -- The founder of the popular Wildlife Waystation has admitted to nearly 300 violations of federal animal welfare laws and agreed to a suspension of her license until conditions are improved, officials said Friday....

A 65-page complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has jurisdiction over the Wildlife Waystation, noted 299 instances from 1998 to August 2000 in which the nonprofit organization founded by Martine Colette "willfully" violated standards for keeping animals for exhibition.

The violations include inadequately trained personnel and volunteers; poorly kept health records; chimpanzees housed in overcrowded, poorly lit and unsound cages...

The settlement allows the 600-or-so animals -- including lions, bears, wolves, chimpanzees and birds -- to remain at the Waystation, located on Little Tujunga Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest....

But the USDA complaint outlines scores of instances in which the Waystation failed to establish and maintain programs of adequate veterinary care, including some that resulted in the death of a chimpanzee [who] was immobilized in an unsafe cage....

BUSHMEAT SELLERS ALSO OFFER HUMAN FLESH

Human flesh 'on sale in London'
Police probe link between African magic and butchered remains of 5-year-old boy
Antony Barnett, Paul Harris and Tony Thompson

Detectives hunting the killers behind the 'Torso in the Thames' child murder are investigating the illegal bushmeat trade after allegations that human flesh is being offered for sale in London.

Police believe that the murdered five-year-old, whom they have called Adam, was the victim of a ritualistic killing linked to a West African form of voodoo-like religion. Officers suspect that gangs illegally importing exotic meat, such as chimpanzee and bush rat from West Africa, are involved in trading in substances used in African witchcraft that may include human body parts....

Thursday, November 07, 2002

MOE IN THE MIDDLE

Claim West Covina officials have failed to fulfill settlement
By Diana L. Roemer , Staff Writer

St. James and La Donna Davis have filed a new $2 million claim against the city of West Covina, saying the city didn't live up to its May settlement over their pet chimp that ended nearly four years of litigation.

The Davises' attorney, who filed the claim Monday, say they didn't get an agreed-to $100,000 or their pet chimpanzee, Moe, who was supposed to move to Baldwin Park under the May agreement....

Moe was removed from his Vincent Avenue home in September 1999 to the Wildlife Waystation in Lake View Terrace after he bit a West Covina police officer and a visitor to the Davises' home.

He is forbidden to return to West Covina....

TWO YOUNG CHIMPANZEES FIND SANCTUARY

Win Scored for Young Chimpanzees -- Arthur and Phoenix
Story Filed: Thursday, November 07, 2002 10:52 AM EST

BOSTON, Nov 7, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Joint Dismissal of Diamond Action, Inc.'s/Lowell Spinners' litigation against Greenville (NH) Wildlife Park allows Young Chimpanzees, Arthur and Phoenix, to Begin New Lives in Florida Sanctuary

The New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) announced today that following the dismissal of litigation that had been pending in the State of New Hampshire concerning the ownership of two young chimpanzees, Arthur (a/k/a Ennio) and Phoenix, Diamond Action, Inc. and Lowell Spinners' President, Drew Weber, transferred ownership of the chimps to NEAVS. Arthur and Phoenix have now been permanently placed with the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care, a widely respected Florida sanctuary. NEAVS is an animal advocacy organization dedicated to ending research on animals.

Weber had intended to exhibit the young chimps during promotional events at the Spinner's ballpark -- a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

Weber originally purchased 2 1/2 and 2 year-old Arthur and Phoenix from the Coulston Foundation, a New Mexico facility that did research on chimpanzees as well as bred and supplied them to other vivisectors. Coulston has since shut down after years of mounting financial difficulties and citations for Animal Welfare Act violations.

NO MORE CIRCUS CHIMPANZEES IN BRITAIN?

Law set to ban circus tricks by wild animals
Gaby Hinsliff, chief political correspondent
Sunday November 3, 2002 The Observer

A crackdown on the treatment of animals in circuses, which could see wild creatures banned from performing, is being drawn up by the government.
The move came as the owner of Britain's largest travelling circus conceded that putting chimps on show in the big top was 'inappropriate'. Ministers are considering calls for a ban on larger wild animals - such as tigers, lions and elephants - performing for human entertainment....

Monday, November 04, 2002

CHIMPANZEES ON THE MENU IN BRITAIN

'END SICK TRADE IN WILDLIFE'

RARE animals are being hunted to extinction to feed an illegal trade in bushmeat bound for Britain.

Eight endangered species have been identified in 78 Customs raids over the last year on bushmeat stashes....

The endangered animals discovered were leopards, chimps, gorillas, bonobo[s]....

Friday, November 01, 2002

CHIMPANZEE PHOTOS AMONG UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RECORD REQUESTS

Texan request sheds light on open records process at UT
October 30, 2002 By Jonathan York Daily Texan Staff

...The University handles over 400 open records requests yearly. Journalists, students and activists have filed requests for information ranging from course outlines in the School of Nursing to photos of chimpanzees at the UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston....

NHLBI CONTINUES HEPATITIS & AIDS STUDIES WITH CHIMPANZEES AT SFBR

MAINTENANCE OF CHIMPANZEES FOR HEPATITIS OR AIDS RESEARCH -- Solicitation

...The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) intends to negotiate with the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research to continue the maintenance of the NHLBI chimpanzee colony for hepatitis and AIDS research. Of the 45 chimpanzees in the colony, 34 are on various investigative programs related to hepatitis and AIDS projects. Most of these projects have long term goals and objectives and some of them have reached a critical phase and others will enter into that phase in the near future. Therefore, any attempt to relocate the colony will not only interrupt critical aspects of the study but is also likely to adversely affect the outcome of ongoing studies....

CHIMPANZEE WAS USED TO TEST FOR TRANSMISSION OF CJD

Patients could be tested to check infection risk
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

...In 1977, a 69-year-old woman suffering from epilepsy had a steel electrode inserted into her brain to measure electrical activity to light. When the examination was complete, the electrode was sterilised (albeit by unconventional means) for 48 hours and used to examine first a 23-year-old woman, then a 17-year-old boy.

The young woman developed CJD 20 months after treatment and the boy succumbed after 16 months. The elderly woman also developed the disease, proving her to be the source of infection.

The speed with which the young patients succumbed reflected how the infectious agent was introduced directly into the brain. As a final test, the tip of the electrode was several years later implanted into the brain of a chimpanzee, [who] also developed CJD...

LAB CHIMPANZEE UNLEASHES PLAGUE IN MOVIE

28 Days Later (18)
ANDREW CLARKE
November 1, 2002

After The Beach, perhaps it is understandable that fans of Danny Boyle and Andrew Macdonald, should feel rather nervous that Britain's leading film-talents had once again teamed up with Alex Garland to make their latest movie – the enigmatically titled 28 Days Later....

The highly contagious virus is released when a group of militant, idealistic animal rights protesters break into a laboratory and despite the pleading of a scientist, unlock the cage of a chimpanzee who has been infected with this virus.

Immediately the chimp attacks its supposed liberator and within minutes the hapless woman is exhibiting symptoms of the Rage Disease....

NONHUMAN RIGHTS

Animal rights
Confidentiality? Privacy rules? Advocates push fo privileges

By SCOTT LaFEE
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

...Historically, of course, animals have labored under the burden of being considered chattel - mere property, subject to the interests and whims of its owner. The view dates to antiquity, and it still influences every perception in Western society - legal, economic, religious, psychological.

"But times are changing," insists Doug Cress, executive director of the Great Ape Project, an international effort to establish basic legal protections for gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans....

In his book, "Drawing the Line," Wise, the animal rights lawyer who also teaches animal law at Harvard, makes a case for providing legal personhood to specific animals - nonhuman species that he says science has already shown to be intelligent and capable of "practical autonomy."

"I'm not talking about granting rights to every animal. That doesn't make sense. But there are numerous species - and likely more we will learn about - who possess self-awareness, the ability to think, feel, want or act intentionally. You might not want to give certain rights to a horse or a duck, but what about a gorilla or a chimpanzee that can use sign language?"...

Changing laws to promote compassionate, reasonable animal protection is all well and good, said Epstein. "But we are all specie-ists and there is a real line to be drawn." Animal rights proponents like to point out that chimpanzees share 98.7 percent of the same DNA as humans, he said. They note that an adult chimp is the intellectual equivalent of a human toddler, and thus deserving of the same rights a human baby is inherently born with.

But the difference, said Epstein, is potential.

"Human children are what they are because of their potential for development, something chimps and other animals do not have."

Maybe not, concedes Tischler. But the right not to be caged or subjected to medical experimentation shouldn't be limited only to beings capable of building zoos or inventing drugs.

"It's hard to imagine such basic rights for animals when we can't even get rats covered by the Animal Welfare Act," said the ALDF's Tischler. "But something's going to jump, leap or fly over that wall someday."