Thursday, January 30, 2003

BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE

We Must Save Our Cousins the Chimps

Kampala, Jan 28, 2003 (New Vision/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- Across Africa the Chimpanzee population is declining due to the loss of habitat

CHIMPANZEES have an axe to grind with their humans cousins. In a wave sweeping through Western Uganda, an influx of human beings has caused massive degradation of the thick forests.

The corridors that were the chimpanzee's natural habitat have been replaced by farmlands and the apes are now hunted by the local communities.

"The endangered apes face extinction if nothing is done about their plight," warns a new report entitled The Status of Chimpanzees in Uganda....

Only 250,000 chimpanzees are now living in the Africa. About one million of them occupied the equatorial belt at the turn of the century. Uganda has been confirmed to have 4,950 chimpanzees, which is about 1,000 higher than the former estimates of "between 3,000 and 4,000," according to the report.

Out of the 20 forests that were surveyed only Kibale National Park, Budongo Forest Reserve, Bugoma and Rwenzori can sustain chimpanzee populations.

The rest, including the smaller forests connected to the larger forests in Kyenjojo, Kibale, Kabarole, Hoima and Masindi, were found to be under indiscriminate destruction....

Chimpanzees play an important ecological role as seed dispersers and without them the forest would disappear.

"We call them keystone species. They play an important role in the ecology of rain forests," says Debbie Cox, the executive director of JGI in Uganda.

It will be a matter of time before we humans too die if we don't protect our cousins. "We are all interconnected. We need chimps in order to survive and the chimps depend on our responsible use of our environment for their survival," says Cox.

WE CAN SING

Sing --it's good for your health
Kim Heinrich Gray

..."Compare us with our nearest relative, the chimpanzee, and they can make only one vocalization on an 'in' or 'out' breath. We, on the other hand, can produce dozens of vocalizations."...

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Primatologist Jane Goodall says "Although it is possible to train animals using only kindness, reward and praise, this requires the kind of time and patience which simply are lacking in the fast-moving world of entertainment and advertising. Almost all trainers will admit that they beat their performers during training. In many cases the abuse is horrendous." Read more here. And animal welfarists on the set won't prevent or even see abuses that occur during pre-production training.

KEEP THE CHIMPANZEES OUT OF ADS

Smile! You're the stars of the Super ad Bowl
Bruce Horovitz USA TODAY

Some of the biggest stars of this year's Super Bowl won't be decked out in helmets and shoulder pads.

They may be wearing flea collars....

Fear of PETA is a key reason why most production companies keep an outside animal welfare specialist on the set -- often from the local Humane Society -- when filming ads with live animals.

But PETA officials insist they can be fans of animal ads, too. They mainly object to commercials featuring chimps or elephants, which PETA Vice President Lisa Lange claims typically suffer physical abuse or food deprivation to perform tricks on cue.

Animal trainers say that's hogwash. They say they encourage animals verbally and with food treats.

''We treat our animals well,'' says Steve Martin (not the actor), owner of one of Hollywood's most successful animal training operations, Steve Martin's Working Wildlife. ''It's all in the training.''...

Friday, January 24, 2003

JUNGLE MEDICINE

Primates found popping prenatal drug

A Madagascan lemur has been revealed as the first animal known to self-medicate when pregnant. Female sifaka eat plants rich in poisonous tannins in the weeks before giving birth, researchers have discovered....

Numerous primates, including chimps, baboons, black lemurs and capuchins, dip into the jungle pharmacy to combat parasites.

Some 39 species have been observed eating soil, which soaks up toxins in the gut and allows the animals to eat poisonous plants without getting sick. Another trick used by chimps is to swallow bristly leaves whole, which irritate their stomachs and induce diarrhoea, flushing out tapeworms and other gut parasites....

Thursday, January 23, 2003

CHIMPANZEES OF GOUALOUGO

The last of their kind
WCU grad studies, champions protection for chimps of the Goualougo Triangle
By Don Hendershot

Dave Morgan knew from childhood that he wanted to work with chimps and apes... He is principal researcher for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Goualougo Chimpanzee Study....

Morgan’s preliminary chimp surveys in the Goualougo Triangle helped convince the German timber company Congolese Industrielle des Bois to return its legal rights to harvest timber in the area to the government of Congo. Most of the triangle was added to the recently (1993) created Nouabale-Ndoki National Park....

The remoteness of the area and the lack of human presence is one aspect that makes the Triangle study so unique. Most chimpanzees across Africa are heavily hunted and react out of fear when they encounter humans. Goualougo chimps react out of curiosity and interest....

Morgan said it is sometimes questionable who is studying whom.

“We had found tracks and knew there was a group of chimps nearby, but we couldn’t find them. Finally we sat down to take a break, and suddenly there was a male chimp in the trail looking at us. There were no vocalizations. The chimp approached closer, grabbed a stick and threw it up into the air and watched for our reaction. We just sat still. The chimp backed away, climbed up a vine and sat watching us, making no vocalizations the entire time.”...

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

UGANDA CHIMPANZEE COUNT

Census finds 5 000 chimpanzees in Uganda

Kampala, Uganda - There are nearly 5 000 chimpanzees living in Uganda, according to a recently completed census.

But continued hunting and human encroachment on their habitat could reduce that number, said scientists on Tuesday....

Between 100 000 and 150 000 chimpanzees live in 21 African countries, she said.

Populations have already been wiped out in five central African countries where chimpanzee meat is highly sought after.

"Unless serious measures are put in place in the next decade, the populations of chimps will be extinct in 10 more countries," said Cox....

Sunday, January 19, 2003

TROUBLE AT THE KANSAS CITY ZOO

What's going on with Julian and the other chimps?
By MATT CAMPBELL The Kansas City Star

Across the zoo from the gorillas another primate experiment -- with a dysfunctional group of chimpanzees -- is following its own dynamic.

As detailed in Star Magazine in August 2001, an adult male chimp was brought in to Kansas City with the hope that he would dominate an adolescent bully here and instill order in the 13-member troop.

Instead, four of the local chimps ganged up on Julian and nearly killed him....

So wrong, in so many ways. See SEEC.

SPECIESIST SOUNDS OFF

Guest Comment on NRO
Chimp Deal
Money headed to the wrong kingdom.
By Wesley J. Smith

The animal-rights/liberation movement is living high on the hog these days....

Now we learn that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is planning to spend $24 million to build a retirement community for — no, not people — "retired" chimpanzees. The chimps in question were bred for medical research. But there are more animals than scientists need to conduct their important work to reduce human suffering, such as in researching cures for malaria.

That leaves the question of what to do with the unneeded chimps. This is an important problem. We humans have a moral obligation to treat animals properly and with humane care. Toward this end, the chimps could be given to well-managed zoos, wild-animal parks, and private primate sanctuaries. As a last and regrettable resort, if there were no option other than maintaining the animals in a cruel or inhumane manner, the chimps could be painlessly euthanized.

Instead, thanks to well-meaning but misguided congressional lawmakers back in 2000, the NIH is going to fund a cushy chimpanzee "sanctuary." Yes, you read it right. The federal government is going to put tens of millions of your taxpayer dollars into a Sun City for chimps....

Let me be clear: I recognize that chimpanzees are highly intelligent creatures that exhibit sophisticated social behavior. They have a higher capacity to suffer than do mice, rats, or birds. Hence — as empathetic, moral beings — we have a higher duty to treat them properly and humanely, both when using them as research subjects and after we no longer need them for that purpose.

But as intelligent as chimpanzees are, as sophisticated as their social interactions may be, as easy as it is to anthropomorphize their lives, we must also never forget that they are animals, not persons. Toward the end of alleviating human suffering and curing human diseases, the well-being and welfare of chimps must come second to our own. That should also be true with regard to how we decide to invest our limited public-health resources. It is a disheartening sign of the times that such sentiments are now explosively controversial.

CHIMPANZEES RESCUED FROM INDIAN ZOO

Animal lovers steal the show at Chennai circus
By Papri Sri Raman, Indo-Asian News Service

Chennai, Jan 17 (IANS) ...On Thursday evening, it was the turn of a "white" chimpanzee Guru to be rescued from the Great Royal Circus and taken to the zoo in Vandalur on Chennai's outskirts....

Voluntary groups like People for Animals (PfA) and Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) took away three chimpanzees from the circus last week. On January 9, Lakshmi and Shiva -- both 22 years old -- and 43-year-old Ganga were rescued by activists with the help of the city police.

Activists said Lakshmi had a bone disorder and could not stand, nor sit. She lay in a blood-soaked bed when the veterinary doctor accompanying the SPCA team examined her. Another animal was blind in one eye.

Guru, the "albino" chimp, was in a rage and could not be approached by the vet. Ganga began to cry and demonstrate her anguish when activists visited her cage.

According to the circus vet, M.S. Gopal, Lakshmi was "being treated with medicine imported from the U.S.". He claimed he had experience in rearing lions and tigers without problems and told reporters that the circus took good care of its animal performers.

Gopal said all the animals in the circus were "in good health" and were well fed....

The circus also obstructed Thursday evening's rescue, claiming Guru was well looked after. Late in the evening, the keeper let the chimpanzee loose among the circus crowds. The confused animal ran about, frightening people, until it was finally caught with the help of a chimp rescued earlier....

IOWA PRIMATE LEARNING SANCTUARY MAY LACK FUNDS

Ape sanctuary to break ground; financing unclear
By JASON CLAYWORTH Register Staff Writer

The man behind a planned ape sanctuary in Des Moines admitted Thursday that cost estimates are sketchy and not enough money has been pledged for the project, even though construction is to begin this month....

MEETING ON CONGO BASIN FOREST

Congo Basin Forest Partners Hold Initial Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC, January 17, 2003 (ENS) - The first international meeting of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, an economic development and conservation program for six Central African countries, is set to open in Paris on Tuesday. Under pressure from population growth, poverty, unsustainable resource use, and political instability, the Congo Basin forests are the focus of a new initative by a partnership of 29 governments, international organizations, environmental and business interests - the Congo Basin Forest Partnership....

The tropical forests of Africa's Congo Basin are some of the last remaining large areas of primeval forested lands in the world, second only to the Amazon Basin. These forests support rare and endangered species such as the eastern lowland gorilla, mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, white rhino, okapi, and Congo peacock....

QATAR MAY RETURN CHIMPANZEE TO AFRICA

Chimp likely to be sent home

DOHA: The Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR) is keen to have a confiscated chimpanzee sent back to its native Africa.

The council has responded very positively to a request from the Zambia-based Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage to give it a permanent home....

"The zoo authorities, of course, are always happy to have additions to their collection of animals. I think they would be a bit hesitant to let go of the chimp, but we will definitely manage to get their consent if somebody can make the arrangements to get the animal a permanent home in its own habitat," said Ghanem Abdullah.

He made it clear that the SCENR would not be in a position to bear the expenses involved in transporting the chimpanzee to Africa....

Saturday, January 18, 2003

"If there is a need for animal experiments, it will have to be accepted." By this logic, couldn't you say that we should accept more human experiments because we need the better data they would provide? Likewise, should we accept a rapist's justification that he has a "need" to rape? It just does not follow that a need gives a right, when the act is morally reprehensible. Further, there is no need for chimpanzee experimentation - it's bad science.

INTERVIEW WITH PRIMATOLOGIST GOODALL

TALKING WITH JANE GOODALL
‘We’ve landed on the moon, can’t we research without hurting animals?’

You just can’t keep the ‘‘Chimp Lady’’ down. Living up to the sobriquet the world has given her, Jane Goodall has been in India for the past few days.... Goodall, whose discoveries in chimpanzee behaviour in Gombe in Tanzania changed the contours of primate research, argues that experimentation on animals is ‘‘morally unacceptable’’ and that it’s entirely possible to conduct research without dragging animals in. The 69-year-old designated UN Messenger of Peace spoke to Sreelatha Menon....

Man cannot do without animal experiments for advancement in medicine, the testing of life saving drugs. Can there be a meeting point between the researcher who’s trying to save humans and the conservator who’s trying to save animals?

If there is a need for animal experiments, it will have to be accepted. But I hate it. It is morally unacceptable. It started in the West and now all over the world, this road of cruelty to animals for the sake of scientific progress is being embraced without a second thought....

Are experiments on primates closely supervised in the United States?

There is terrible research going on in the United States. Activists are continually fighting it. But there is no control on research....

Are chimps suitable for HIV research? They are being used for SIV (Simian Immuno Deficiency Virus) research at the National Institute of Virology in Pune.

SIV research has been abandoned in the United States and in Holland as it has proved to be useless. Both strains 1 and 2 of HIV originated from chimps but the virus mutated when they jumped into man. So research on them will yield nothing. In the West, they are phasing out chimps except in research for Hepatitis C. Often, researchers justify the use of animals just to get their hands on grant money....

Friday, January 17, 2003

GREEN DESIGN FOR IOWA PRIMATE LEARNING SANCTUARY

Great Ape Sanctuary Destined for Iowa -- Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary's "Green Design" Influenced by Plight of Great Apes

DES MOINES, Iowa, Jan 16, 2003 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Architectural designs were released today for one of the largest great ape sanctuaries to be constructed in North America. The initial phase of the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary (IPLS) will be built in Des Moines by year's end and will incorporate extensive "green design" initiatives for conservation and environmental sustainability....

Leo A Daly, an international architectural firm headquartered in Omaha, Neb., has developed a remarkably innovative design that calls for the creation of several islands on the site -- each island will serve as home to one of the great ape species: bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. To combat the harsh Iowa winters, buildings on each island will be connected by heated passageways or tunnels called ApeWalks....

The first great ape residents of IPLS will be eight bonobos -- sometimes called pygmy chimpanzees -- from the Language Research Center at Georgia State University near Atlanta....

AFRICAN CHIMPANZEES GET HEATERS AT COLD ZOO

Zoo animals enjoy cozy life in icy city

HARBIN, Jan 14, 2003 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Though the minimum temperature has dropped to 30 degrees below zero Celsius in China's northernmost icy city of Harbin, zoo animals are leading a cozy life as usual, thanks to the heating systems installed in their pens.

Shasha, a chimpanzee from Africa, is devouring tomatoes -- his favorite food -- at his comfortable home heated with a liquefied gas heater, while his best friend Turna rides on a swing.

Shortly after their arrival in Harbin from their tropical hometown last autumn, the chimpanzees came down with a bad cold and recovered only after days of antibiotic transfusions, said zoo keeper Huang Delin.

The management then started to consider additional warmth for these tropical species, as the central heating system at the zoo could only raise the indoor temperature to 15 degrees at most on the coldest days.....

EXTINCTION THREAT ASSESSMENT QUESTIONED

Red alert over rare species

The well-known "Red List" that details which species are threatened with extinction is inaccurate, according to a new assessment. It concludes the list fails to reflect the true threat to species, by not taking full account of the threat posed by people....

Contrary to the expectations of many, the researchers also found that two high-profile species, the gorilla and the pygmy chimpanzee, or bonobo, should be downgraded to a lower level of threat....

Monday, January 13, 2003

HOLIDAY ENRICHMENT

Rockefeller Christmas tree turns into toys for polar bears

...At the Center for Orangutan and Chimpanzee Conservation in Wauchula, Fla., shoes and boots are the favorite toys of Chipper, a onetime circus chimpanzee.

"Animals need to be stimulated, as they are in the wild," Chris Kratt said. "And these toys are designed to stimulate: A new smell! Something that feels different!"...

TAKING A CHIMP WALK IN UGANDA

Uganda, the New Kenya
In East Africa, an Unexpected Bright Spot

...Forty-five minutes away, the Kibale Forest reportedly has the highest density of nonhuman primates in the world. We passed large colonies of baboons on the road. As we approached the visitors center, our driver pointed out colobus monkeys passing from tree to tree above the road, white fringes on black. The main activity there is the chimp walk: several hours with a guide, following the primates through the forest. The rangers at the visitors shelter divided the dozen travelers huddled there into three smaller groups, so as not to scare the chimps....

In good weather, the chimps come down to ground level and you can watch them do lots of things. But on rainy days they stay aloft and wander their territory, a 10-mile radius. Although they like figs and other fruits, they sometimes gang together to hunt other animals. As the rain ebbed to a steady drip, we found two older males clearly visible in lower treetops and watched them malinger. They took turns picking lice off each other, as friends do in the chimp world. Then they made their own high-wire La-Z-Boys, deftly folding leafy branches together and plumping them like bean-bag chairs. It was siesta time, and there we were craning up to watch them relax. A chimp had a good idea and the rest of us just looked silly, jockeying like second-tier paparazzi on the wet forest floor....

CHIMPANZEES ARE PROPS AT TROUBLED FLORIDA EVENT CENTER

Safari-themed retreat clashes with county, environmentalists
Exotic animal trainer Donovan Smith says he's an entrepreneur preserving farmland from development; critics accuse him of bending Collier County growth rules
By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, aszagier@naplesnews.com

Beneath a moonlit night, a sitar player sits cross-legged, nimbly plucking the stringed instrument as a pair of chimpanzees scamper nearby....

Donovan Smith and his wife, Tammy, have quietly cared for their herd of 40 exotic animals — from leopards and bobcats to panthers, lemurs, giraffes and an elephant — for more than a dozen years on a 35-acre wilderness preserve along Inez Road....

The name of the place is Ngala (En-ya-la), Swahili for "place of the lion." The title couldn't be more appropriate, with environmentalists roaring at Smith over alleged violations of the county's rural fringe growth plan. Opponents are also critical of what they call lax enforcement by Collier County officials, who are allowing Smith to stay in business even as he faces multiple building code and environmental violations....

For Smith, the bureaucratic haggling is a rude awakening to what he calls his "American dream." Married for 12 years to his high school sweetheart, the couple opened Ngala after their son, Cody, now 3, was born and they tired of taking their animals on the road.

Smith, a licensed animal handler by age 14, calls his events "living art environments with live animals." Customers can request Everglades motifs, or safari themes, and Close Up Creatures will deliver the appropriate critters, props and cuisine....

Sunday, January 12, 2003

AFRICAN APES AT RISK FROM EBOLA

Gorillas In the Midst of an Outbreak?
Ebola virus threatens Africa’s primates

Jan. 20 issue — Apollo, the world’s best-known gorilla, is missing, and the Ebola virus may be the culprit. The alpha male of a 24-member family hasn’t been seen since early December, when two members of his family were found dead—along with three other endangered western lowland gorillas and several chimps—in the remote Odzala National Park of the Republic of the Congo....

The Wildlife Conservation Society, based at the Bronx Zoo, suggests that huge numbers of gorillas and chimps may have died in an Ebola epidemic in the area five years ago. And the new outbreak may not be over—another chimp was found dead in the park last week....

Saturday, January 11, 2003

PERFORMING CHIMPANZEE IS POTTY-TRAINED

CNN LIVE AT DAYBREAK
Music Video Calls on Potty People

...JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to potty training, this is music meant to inspire a movement. "I Gotta Go" is surely destined to make it to number one, not to mention number two....

MOOS: Vicky Esralew collaborated with pediatricians and commercial jingle composers. She held a casting call for kids.... Not to mention a potty trained chimp.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: That monkey's sure funny.

MOOS: Angel the chimp learned to potty my mimicking his keepers. Guess they didn't close the door. Angel even flushes the toilet.... Though Angel's owner says if left alone, he would flush a hundred times.

This reporter implies only humans can empathize with others. To the contrary, primatologists have documented that chimpanzees share this quality as well. Indeed, is is debatable that all humans possess it.

REALLY NOT SO DIFFERENT

The 1.2 percent secret
By MICHAEL WOODS Toledo Blade

- Look closer at that reflection in the mirror, and you might see a chimp.

Chimpanzees are our closest relatives. The genetic instructions for making a chimp and human differ by about 1.2 per cent. Our "genomes," or full sets of genes, are 98.8 percent identical....

So what's the 1.2 percent secret? How do people really differ from animals? What makes us human?

Those old answers from school, church, synagogue and mosque are going to get a scientific update from the Human Genome Project (HGP)....

The chimp genome project may lead to important disease-related genes. Chimps infected with influenza and hepatitis C, for instance, get only mild symptoms.

And chimps are immune to malaria....

Scientists think that comparing the genes in chimps and humans will shed new light on evolution. And it should reveal that 1.2 percent difference.

"It will tell us what makes us human," said Dr. Yoshiyuki Sakaki, a University of Tokyo expert who already has begun deciphering the chimp genome.

Scientists will compare the two genomes, and identify the exact differences.

Do people have an ethics gene that would make a chimp agonize over good and evil? Is there a gene for empathy, the ability to put yourself in another's place and imagine how you would feel?...

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....

More media disinformation, perpetuating the myth that life is better behind bars than free. Contrary to the zookeeper's assertion, primatologist Jane Goodall and others have documented cases of even unrelated chimpanzees caring for weaker members of the group.

ZOO DEALS WITH AGING INMATES

As its animal population ages, KC Zoo is losing some old friends
By MATT CAMPBELL The Kansas City Star

The December holidays were a bleak time at the Kansas City Zoo, which reported the demise of a valued orangutan and two California sea lions.

All died because of old age. Two were euthanized to end their pain, and the third entered its death throes just as she was about to be euthanized....

Jimmie the chimpanzee is 37 years old -- pushing the outer range of a captive chimp's life span. He is the patriarch of Kansas City's chimp troop, but he has heart disease. Jimmie nearly died twice after collapsing and turning blue during screaming matches with other males.

For three years zookeepers have been giving Jimmie heart medicine, aspirin and a mood relaxant. In the wild he would be expelled from the troop and left to die.

"Here he has the luxury of retirement, per se, and still has social interactions with the rest of the group," Suedmeyer said....

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

GREAT APE OBSERVATORY PLANNED ALONG NILE

Sudhir Takes Bujagali Resort

Kampala, Jan 06, 2003 (New Vision/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- A Kampala-based tycoon, has taken over the management of Bujagali Falls tourist centre near Jinja....

Sudhir also plans to develop the banks of River Nile for the purpose of establishing an artificial animal sanctuary that will house Chimpanzees and mountain gorillas.

"We want to reduce on the costs of the tourists involved in moving into the remote wilderness tracking down those precious animals," Hitesh said....

CHIMPANZEES IN CATCH-22

Troubled Wildlife Waystation Could Win Back Licenses
Facility Must Move Two Dozen Chimps

LOS ANGELES -- The troubled Wildlife Waystation has been told it can win back its federal and state licenses by moving two dozen chimpanzees from an unsafe cage.

But Los Angeles County officials have ordered construction halted on the new cage. They are demanding the 161-acre compound in the Angeles National Forest submit an environmental impact report.

"This is a huge Catch-22," said Robert H. Lorsch, who last year agreed to take over the reins of the nonprofit refuge, which is home to 500 sick of unwanted animals....

Comments of a recent Berlin zoo visitor: "The enclosures are outdated. The chimp enclosure itself is small and does not provide the chimps much to do except sit. The chimps are probably eager for activity and would be more active if more were provided for them in terms of interesting and challenging forms of enrichment. I got the attention of one male and had a rousing game of chase with him-- he seemed interested enough in being active! That being said, a zoo chimp has no responsibility at all to be entertaining to the public!.

"BORING" OLDER CHIMPANZEES EXPELLED FROM GERMAN ZOO

Being a Middle-Aged Chimp No Tea Party
By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Aping the tactics of some big employers, the Berlin zoo is to send its middle-aged chimps into early retirement because they are too sluggish and set in their ways -- and German animal lovers are up in arms about it.

Because they no longer amuse the public, the five chimpanzees are to go to China after attempts failed to find a new home for them in Europe. But the fate of Gusta, Lilly, Karel, Pedro and Soko has sparked outrage in the local media....

Wildlife activists criticized the zoo, saying it wants to bring in younger primates to attract visitors.

"They were cute when they were young, but now that they're old they're being heartlessly put out to pasture," said Daniela Freyer, spokeswoman for animal rights group Pro Wildlife.

The 158-year zoo, the oldest in Germany and one of the best known in Europe, said it needs more room for its gorillas and pygmy chimps, which are more lively and have produced offspring recently. The zoo has a total of 342 apes....

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

PLIGHT OF THE "SURPLUS" LAB CHIMPANZEES

For Retired Chimps, a Life of Leisure
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

...Jessie and Dover do not really have to be at Yerkes, but there is nowhere else for them to go. Bred for biomedical research, they are now unemployed, a result of a vast surplus of laboratory chimpanzees. They pass their days in small steel-and-concrete enclosures, playing with burlap bags and shredding old telephone books for entertainment.

But there may be better times ahead for these great apes and hundreds of their captive kin. Acting on a mandate from Congress, the National Institutes of Health announced last year that it would spend $24 million to help build and operate a chimpanzee sanctuary, in essence, a taxpayer-supported retirement home for research chimps....

Of the 1,600 laboratory chimps in the United States, N.I.H. officials estimate that more than 400 are not involved in experiments. Chimp Haven, which officials hope to open in 2004, will be on 200 acres of donated land near Shreveport, La. It may eventually be home to up to 300 chimps. Others may retire to a private sanctuary in Florida.

Some scientists, however, including Dr. Stuart Zola, the Yerkes director, fear that the federal government is setting a bad precedent by giving its imprimatur to the retirement concept.

"I see the retirement community idea as simply another ploy by the animal rights community to reach their eventual goal of abolishing the use of animals in research," Dr. Zola said. "I'm not opposed to it. But I think it is being driven by an animal rights point of view."

Advocates for animal rights are angry because the legislation that authorized the sanctuary included a provision permitting the animals to be returned to laboratories in a public health emergency.

"They cannot call a place a sanctuary if what it really is is a holding pen for when they need the chimps the next time," said Holly Hazard, executive director of the Doris Day Animal League, a lobbying group in Washington. Still, Ms. Hazard said, "Any day the chimps have enjoying the sunshine is one day more than before."...

With life spans of 50 years or more, some chimps may outlive the scientists who do research on them.

Big and strong, they are expensive to maintain. Yerkes, which has 174 chimps at three locations, budgets $500,000 a year for their care....

At Yerkes, the nation's oldest primate center, about 100 chimpanzees, including nine infected with the AIDS virus, live in the biomedical research compound in Atlanta, which is off-limits to reporters. An additional 20 are in New Iberia, La., and 55 are here in Lawrenceville, at a 117-acre field station where Dr. de Waal studies their social behavior....

Jessie and Dover, however, are not part of the behavioral research, and despite their unemployment, they are not likely to be among the first Yerkes chimps to relocate; Dr. Zola, the Yerkes director, said the New Iberia chimps will probably move first. While Dr. Zola said he would love to build similar large outdoor enclosures for Jesse, Dover and other unemployed apes, the hard reality is that he has neither the space nor the money to do it.

Of their current living situation, he said, "It isn't optimal."

LEGISLATOR HELPING NEW ZEALAND'S NONHUMAN APES

MP's bill seeks care for apes

Napier MP Russell Fairbrother is drafting a private member's bill to safeguard the welfare of great apes living in New Zealand.

He estimates there are 29 such animals in zoos, circuses and private ownership around the country....

Monday, January 06, 2003

To learn how you can help these people, click here.

SPOTLIGHT ON SANCTUARY FOR EX-LAB CHIMPANZEES

Rescue mission
By Elva K. Österreich Staff Writer

Carole Noon has a mission in life. She dreams of giving her "people" a place to live out their lives in peace and comfort. She would like to give them an island where they can play together, go out in the sun and play, or curl up in a warm bower and sleep in peace.
Noon walks by her people talking with them, teasing this one gently, encouraging another, laughing with a third. She has her dog, Esther, with her for the first time and these people have never seen a dog before; it's quite a shock for them. They call to the dog, yell at her, and even throw things at her.

Esther is only one of the new experiences Noon's friends have encountered in the past few months since Noon's organization took over the care of them. They have also encountered such delicacies as fresh fruit with every meal and mirrors so they can see who is living next to them.

Noon's people are known to most of the rest of the world as chimpanzees and the organization she directs is the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care based in Florida....

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FOX'S SPECIAL VERSION OF "REALITY" FEATURES RACING CHIMPANZEE

New on Fox: Dog pageants, swallowed items

HOLLYWOOD, California (Variety) -- Fox is developing a trio of out-there reality specials -- including a doggie beauty pageant and a multi-species athletic competition boasting, among other things, a team of little people squaring off against an 8,000-pound elephant....

"Man vs. Beast," the multispecies competition airing Wednesday, January 15 at 9 p.m., will feature humans and animals going head-to-head in a series of competitions....

Also planned: a sumo wrestler vs. orangutan tug of war, and a chimp vs. soldier obstacle course race....

Saturday, January 04, 2003

AFRICAN SANCTUARY OFFERS HOME TO QATAR'S SMUGGLED CHIMPANZEES

Confiscated chimps to find new home in Zambia

DOHA: The Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia, which has already provided a safe home to three chimpanzees from Qatar, is keen to accept two more which were recently confiscated at Doha International Airport....

The seizure, made in September last year, was reported by The Peninsula quoting Ghanem Abdulla Mohammed, head of the Wildlife Protection and Management Department of SCENR. The chimpanzees have been kept at Doha Zoo, the official said....

It was reported that alert Customs officials had detected the two infant chimps tucked inside a container and foiled the attempt by a private collector to smuggle them into the country.

Having ratified the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), Qatar has embarked on a focused wildlife protection campaign....

Friday, January 03, 2003

NONHUMAN APE CULTURE

Another cultured ape, this time with red hair
Orangutans share behaviour in group Using leaf `napkin' just one example
CAROL KAESUK YOON

NEW YORK—Orangutans, those red-haired knuckle-dragging apes, are loping into the upper echelons of the primate hierarchy.

According to research reported in the journal Science, they exhibit what was until very recently considered a uniquely human attribute: culture....

Other researchers reported four years ago that chimpanzees exhibited widespread cultural differences.

Chimps also differ in the way they groom, hunt, eat and so on.

Scientists say the new work suggests the two remaining great ape species, gorillas and bonobos, are likely to have culture, too, and that great ape culture may date back at least to the origin of the entire group 14 million years ago....

In a classic example, chimpanzees are known to use very different methods for extracting ants from ant nests in eastern and western Africa. But in one new study, researchers reported finding a group of chimpanzees that use either method — depending on how aggressive the ant they are hunting is.

Galef said the finding suggests even this classic chimp cultural divide might have an ecological explanation as simple as the difference in ants available in different areas....

Thursday, January 02, 2003

PLEASE DON'T EAT THE CHIMPANZEES

Monkey brains off the menu in central Africa

MEKAMBO, Gabon, January 02 -- Monkey brains and tender elephant trunks were off the Christmas menu in northern Gabon where an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has deprived people of their traditional fare....

Scientists believe Ebola, which causes 90 percent of its victims to bleed to death, can be caught by eating meat from infected apes such as chimpanzees and gorillas....

The news has reached further afield, however. China has imposed an import ban on apes from Gabon, such as chimpanzees and gorillas, and their products. Passengers from the central African state will be subject to extra scrutiny, the official China Daily said on Saturday.

When Ebola first struck Gabon in 1994, investigators were told many apes had died in a forest near the affected area, but none were found. In 1996, 13 people fell ill after butchering a dead chimpanzee they had found.

Despite such tales and the horrific fate that awaits Ebola victims, bushmeat of all kinds is still getting through to Gabon's big cities, where demand for a taste of the wild has been growing steadily.

During Christmas week, the discerning consumer in Gabon's capital could choose between monkeys, chimpanzees, gazelles, and even a family of rare wild boar, a protected species....

GREAT APE RIGHTS NEAR

Apes in line for legal rights
Our nearest relative: Should apes have rights to decent treatment?
By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby
Campaigners who want four great ape species to be given legal rights believe they may be on the verge of victory.

The four species are chimpanzees, bonobos (a pygmy chimp), orangutans and gorillas.

A number of groups have been campaigning under the banner of the Great Ape Project (GAP) for all four to be given what are sometimes called human rights.

GAP says it may soon achieve a breakthrough, if a new animal welfare bill in New Zealand is drafted to include a clause to do just that.

The law would then make the great apes the first non-human species to enjoy individual, fundamental rights.

Enforceable in law, they would include the right to life, the right not to suffer cruel or degrading treatment, and the right not to take part in most experiments.

The bill could soon become law and could set a precedent for other countries.

GAP argues partly from the genetic similarities between the great apes and human beings - chimps and humans share 98.5% of their DNA.

But it also says all four species have some "indicators of humanhood" - intelligence, deep emotions, some linguistic ability, and self-awareness....

BONOBO SPEAKS

Lab chimp speaks his own language

A bonobo has surprised his trainers by appearing to make up his own "words". It is the first report of an ape making sounds that seem to hold their meaning across different situations, and the latest challenge to the orthodox view that animals do not have language.

Kanzi is an adult bonobo kept at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He has grown up in captivity among humans, and is adept at communicating with symbols. He also understands some spoken English, and can respond to phrases such as "go out of the cage" and "do you want a banana?"

Jared Taglialatela and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, who work with Kanzi, noticed that he was making gentle noises during his interactions with them....

They identified four sounds that Kanzi made in different contexts - banana, grapes, juice and yes. In each of these contexts, Kanzi made the same sound....

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

PROBLEMS WITH DEVELOPING AIDS VACCINE

Moment of Truth Draws Near for Humanity's Best Hope to Date in the Battle Against AIDS
by Steve Connor

The gathering of information about the only AIDS vaccine to go through the final phase of a clinical trial is expected to finish within days so that the findings can be made public early in the new year....

The Vaxgen vaccine was also tried on animals with good results, but protecting a chimpanzee or a monkey against HIV or the simian virus is not the same as protecting people against the human virus.

HIV is perhaps the most difficult virus to target with a vaccine. The virus's killer nature arises from the way that it eventually disables the immune system. But the key to its survival is the way that it initially outwits that system by evolving at an incredible speed. Its genetic structure mutates about a million times faster than that of humans. With influenza, it is the fastest-evolving lifeform on the planet. In the course of infecting one person it spawns hundreds or even thousands of slightly different strains. A person can be infected with one strain of HIV and die years later with a totally different population of its "quasispecies", each slightly different in its genetic alphabet to the next.

That makes it difficult to design anti-viral drugs, because one is trying to hit a moving target, biologically speaking....

WHO IS CLOSEST HUMAN RELATION: CHIMPANZEE OR ORANGUTAN?

No monkey business
Science museum director wants to inspire public
By TOM BUCKHAM

While touring the Buffalo Museum of Science as a candidate for the new position of director of science and collections, John Grehan spotted three splendid artifacts in the musty recesses of an upper floor - the stuffed carcasses of a chimpanzee, a gorilla and an orangutan.

Now that he is on the job, Grehan has in mind a future exhibit featuring the simian threesome, concerning the debate over which species is most closely related to man....

One tool will be using the collections to fuel the dialogue between science and the public. For example, that potential "missing link" exhibit featuring chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan.

"The popular press has gotten behind one school of thought - that the chimp is our closest relative," Grehan said, "but there is another view out there - a legitimate scientific view - that it's the orangutan."...

In the debate over man's closest ancestor, this scientist's money is on the orangutan.

"It makes a lot of sense biologically," he said. "Orangutans are just like us in many respects. They mate at anytime of year, and like us, they have beards. Chimps and gorillas, on the other hand, mate only when the female is in season. And they're knuckle-walkers. Then again, when you look at the genetics, chimps are more like us."

There would be an added twist: The museum's stuffed chimp is none other than Eddie, who for decades before his demise both regaled and revolted Buffalo Zoo visitors with his antics.

"Eddie the Chimp would have a new lease on life - in the middle of a controversy," Grehan said. "That's a familiar role for him."

CHIMP HAVEN TO BE COMPLETED IN LATE 2003

Veterans cemetery, chimp haven in sight
Don Walker / Staff Writer

The transformation of Eddie D. Jones Nature Park in south Caddo Parish into an 80-acre tract veteran's cemetery and a 200-acre haven for retired chimpanzees should be near completion by this time next year, parish officials said....

Parish Administrator Bill Hanna said the cemetery is expected to be ready in late 2003, with total development of the park completed in 2004.

That would include Chimp Haven, which received $18 million in financial backing from the federal government this past fall to establish a sanctuary for chimpanzees that have been retired from medical research, the entertainment industry or are no longer wanted as pets. Ultimately Chimp Haven will be home to an estimated 300 chimpanzees....