Thursday, November 25, 2004


Chimpanzee Scientist Goodall Wants End to Animal Testing

Jane Goodall, the world's foremost authority on chimpanzees, on Monday urged the immediate discontinuation of animal tests because they are mostly [?] "unnecessary."

"I am concerned that the Korean public are not educated about what actually happens (when animals are used in testing). People should understand the experiments are completely [!] unnecessary because alternative ways have already been developed," the 70-year-old said in a press conference in Seoul.

She added the researchers in the labs should understand animals are not just objects and stop going ahead with animal experiments, which are typically conducted in terrible conditions.

"The thing is that through observing and learning about chimpanzees, I understand the lines between us and the rest of the animal kingdom is not so big. They have personality and they have feeling. They feel sadness,"...

Here are some ways to help current and former research chimpanzees:

As you do your holiday shopping this year, don't forget the chimpanzees.

Your tax dollars make it possible for researchers to continue to use chimpanzees as furry test tubes for human diseases.

In the wild, fruit comprises about two-thirds of a chimpanzee's diet. The situation is very different behind bars.


25 Dhaka Zoo inmates face death
At least 25 animals of Dhaka Zoo face death because of old age and lack of proper treatment.

The animals waiting for death are the lone Chimpanzee, a Tapir, a Mandrill, two elephants, a Goyal and a bear.

"Dhaka Zoo needs more facilities and cells for the ever-growing population. The ministry has already decided to provide Tk 30 lakh for the expansion and we have submitted a proposal and awaiting the ministry's approval," said Mofizur Rahman, curator of the zoo.

Recently, a Hippopotamus and a Royal Bengal tiger died on November 11 and 16....


Fossils Found in Spain Seen as Last Link to Great Apes

Scientists in Spain have discovered fossils of an ape species from about 13 million years ago that they think may have been the last common ancestor of all living great apes, including humans.

The new ape species and its possible place in prehuman evolution are described in today's issue of the journal Science by a research team led by Dr. Salvador Moyà-Solà of the Miquel Crusafont Institute of Paleontology in Barcelona. The fossil remains were found near Barcelona and named Pierolapithecus catalaunicus.

In the report, the researchers concluded that the well-preserved skull, teeth and skeletal bones promised "to contribute substantially to our understanding of the origin of extant great apes and humans."

Dr. David R. Begun, a paleontologist at the University of Toronto who is familiar with the research but not a member of the team, called the fossils "a great discovery," adding, "I am convinced it is a great ape."

About 25 million years ago, Old World monkeys diverged from the primate line that led eventually to apes and humans. About 11 million to 16 million years ago, another branching occurred, when primates known as the great apes - which now include orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas and humans - split from the lesser apes, represented by today's gibbons and siamangs.

Although the great ape group includes humans, Dr. Brooks Hanson, deputy editor for physical sciences at Science, said, "it's important to remember that we've had millions of years of evolution since then."...


Officers chase down teenage chimpanzee

Police officers say they got "a little comic relief" on a mundane Friday night when a woman called to report a gorilla in her back yard.

It turned out to be a chimp that ran away from Casa de Cheeta, the sanctuary just blocks away from the caller that houses and rehabilitates show-business primates.

The sanctuary is named after Cheeta, the retired chimpanzee star of a dozen Tarzan movies, who still resides there at age 72.

The runaway chimp was Cheeta's 16-year-old grandson, Jeeter....

The chimps' owner, Dan Westfall, said he'd forgotten to latch a security door and Jeeter walked out. He said he has since installed a second security door to keep both chimps inside.

Friday, November 19, 2004


Sperm's solution to promiscuity

Nature is fighting back in response to female promiscuity by producing a biological 'sperm' chastity belt, say US scientists.

Semen becomes more sticky to act as a plug, thereby preventing sperm from competitors impregnating females who sleep around, they found....

The researchers examined the semen of 12 different species of primates.

In species where the females were most promiscuous, the males had developed several strategies to ensure they would be the male most likely to father any offspring and pass on their genes.

As well as having larger testicles and producing more sperm, the semen was more sticky.
Chimpanzees, for example, which are a promiscuous species, had more advanced evolution of a gene controlling the stickiness of semen than gorillas, which tend to be monogamous and stay faithful to their partner for life.

Humans were midway between, suggesting that while women are nothing like as promiscuous as chimps, neither are they as faithful as gorillas....

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Zoo Celebrates Birth of Baby Chimp

Staff members at the Baltimore Zoo are celebrating a new arrival today.

A Male chimpanzee was born to longtime "Chimpanzee Forest" resident Joice and newcomer Joe, on October 20,2004.

The baby is the first chimpanzee birth at the Zoo since Raven was born in 1995.

Joe, the father, is on loan from the Detroit Zoo for breeding purposes....


Party is over for Bobbie
One of Auckland Zoo's original "tea party" chimps has died aged 50.

Bobbie the chimpanzee had lived at Auckland Zoo since he arrived as a 2-year-old in 1956 with three other chimps from Regents Park Zoo in London.

The four - Bobbie, Minnie, Josie and Janie - got their nickname from the tea parties they held to entertain the crowds.

The practice was common in many zoos at the time but stopped in 1963 after attitudes to the treatment of animals in captivity changed.

Janie is now the only one of the original four still alive....


Saving Sam
At 56, the Sacramento Zoo chimp isn't getting any younger, but he is getting plenthy of love -- and help

Sam the chimpanzee moves gingerly on arthritic limbs, his leathery feet kicking up dust as gleeful children point at him from outside his glass dome.

On his best days, Sam shows flashes of his acrobatic past, climbing rocks, grabbing ropes and scaling his way to the uppermost stretches of his enclosure to glimpse the sky and revel in the sun's warm rays.

But as the swatches of silver in his coarse black fur confirm, Sam's youth is far behind him. At 56, he is the Sacramento Zoo's senior resident and is among the oldest chimpanzees in captivity in the country.

Time has taken its toll. Sam is less enticed these days by the fresh fruit his keepers offer as treats. His eyes are clouded by cataracts. He suffers from colitis. His heart is giving out, and his longtime caretakers are bracing for the inevitable....

Sam was born in 1948, records show. When he was 3 years old, he was taken from the African jungle and shipped to the United States and his new home, the Sacramento Zoo...

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Animals and human beings have much to gossip about

A FEW years ago I had a conversation that utterly changed my attitude towards animals. The topic of this conversation was not, in itself, particularly fascinating, being concerned mostly with mosquitoes and marshmallows. The discussion did not flow easily, partly because my interlocutor kept scratching her bottom and trying to stick a twig in my ear. What made this conversation extraordinary, however, and unlike any other I have had, was that it took place with a chimpanzee.

Panbanisha, a 14-year-old female bonobo or pygmy chimp, had been taught to “speak” by scientists at the Georgia Primate Centre using a pictorial keypad and voice synthesiser. At the time of our meeting, she had assembled a working vocabulary of 250 words, but an understanding of perhaps 3,000 more. From these, scientitists concluded that Panbanisha understood such concepts as loss and regret, the past and the future, truth and falsehood. She was able to construct quite complex sentences, and knew the difference between “put the water in the orange juice”, and “put the orange juice in the water”; she was, in short, a great deal more coherent that John Prescott.

I left my encounter with Panbanisha convinced that animals do think....

Descartes held that speech and reason set man apart from all other animals, and thus non-human animals were beyond ethical consideration. The slow erosion of this approach is one of the most important societal changes of the past 40 years. While there are still arguments over what a fox feels as it is chased by hounds, almost nobody would now argue that animals are beneath moral consideration. True, we remain deeply confused in our attitudes: the number of animals used for research is sharply down, but the hideously cruel foie gras industry has doubled in size over the past 14 years; few still wear fur, but we choose to ignore the often unspeakable conditions on factory farms. Yet the general trend is undoubtedly towards humane treatment of animals, and greater humility in human beings: less, and less cruel experimentation; food raised without suffering. By 2012, every one of Europe’s 200 million hens will be legally entitled to a perch. A small step up for chickens, but a revolution compared with the way previous generations have approached barnyard animals.

The change springs not from mere sentimentality or anthropomorphism, but a realisation, powered by scientific discovery, that the distance between animal and human being, between us and them, is far smaller than tradition and religion have asserted....


Great apes face extinction

Chained by the neck to a concrete outhouse for 12 years, it was not much of a life. But given the alternative, Julie was lucky.

Bought for £60 as an infant, this suburban yard in Douala, Cameroon's commercial capital, was the only home she knew.

Slamming her hands on the ground, screaming, the family pet was evidently in distress but at least she had survived, unlike most great apes in central Africa.

After being captured with her in the jungle Julie's parents almost certainly ended up in a cooking pot as bushmeat, a trade which is driving chimpanzees and gorillas towards extinction.

Young chimps like Julie are more valuable as pets but as they grow strong and wild they can also end up as bushmeat or as prisoners, chained to a wall.

In this case there was a happy ending. Fed up with her angry and out-of-control pet, the owner contacted a wildlife centre at nearby Limbe to take her away.

After being tranquilised and having her chain broken Julie was lifted into a cage and driven to Limbe to be quarantined for three months and introduced to other chimps who have also been rescued.

Whether she will integrate is uncertain. 'This animal thinks it is a human. She has never seen another chimpanzee,' said Livia Wittiger, a biologist at the centre.

Most great apes in the Congo basin never get that chance. An estimated one to five million tonnes of bushmeat is eaten here every year, its value ranging from £10 million to £100m in different countries....

Western chimpanzees have disappeared from Benin, Gambia and Togo and fewer than 1,000 remain in Senegal, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau. The UN environmental agency has warned that we are destroying a bridge to our origins - humans share more than 96 per cent of their DNA with great apes.

Hunting and eating great apes has been illegal for a decade but it is only recently that the trade went underground, partly because since last year any restaurant caught serving meat from endangered animals faces up to three years in prison and a $16,000 (£8,700) fine.

...Chimp and gorilla meat has been found in Europe but is usually consumed in central and western Africa.

Babies have been sold as pets but nine out of 10 have died from disease and neglect, said Felix Lankester, of the Limbe Wildlife Centre. As awareness of the problem grows more of those pets which survive will be rescued. 'It's not too late, but there is not a lot of hope left for the great apes. They are spiralling into extinction.'