Saturday, January 11, 2003

INDIA'S SUFFERING CIRCUS CHIMPANZEES

An intelligent captive

[Photo] Guru waits for freedom.

A TRAVELLING circus that arrived in the city recently has unwittingly turned the attention of animal lovers and concerned citizens on the plight of one of the most intelligent apes — the chimpanzee.

Given to emotion and expressing it through hugs, kisses, cries, play, deceit and other behaviour, the chimpanzee is perhaps the closest beast to man. Though stronger and more powerful than a grown-up human, chimps the world over are removed at an early age from their mother and suffer separation wrought by human beings. When the Great Royal Circus recently publicised that the major attraction in their show was an `albino', male chimpanzee, many visitors came. The cycling act by the albino chimp amused children and adults alike.

However, behind the amusement was a painful relationship, where the master controlled the chimp absolutely. Researchers say it is difficult to contain chimpanzees in a small area. At the circus, the albino chimp, Guru, was languishing in a cage created by combining two enclosures, a far cry from the vast spaces that the chimps traverse in their natural habitat....