The Great Ape Project, or GAP, is an international movement created in 1994 whose main purpose is to fight for the basic rights to life, freedom and non-torture of the nonhuman great apes – Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutans and Bonobos, the closest relatives of man in the animal world. To this end, the project created the World Declaration of the Great Apes, a document that defines the rights credited to these animals.
The GAP was born from ideas developed in a book of the same name written by the philosophers Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer, the latter considered one of the precursors worldwide of the movement of defense of animal rights. In the book, authors and other experts, including the British primatologist Jane Goodall, explain that humans and the other great apes share characteristics such as social organization, communication, and strong affective bonds between individuals, which give them intelligence and consequently, rights very similar to ours.
Currently GAP is present in 13 countries – Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Ivory Coast and Japan, in which representatives work mainly to spread the purpose of the cause of the Rights of the Great Apes and in activism.
In Brazil, GAP has taken a stand in the last decades for the practical work of rescue and recovery of chimpanzees victims of mistreatment developed in four Great Apes Sanctuaries. Although private and independent, the Brazilian sanctuaries are institutions affiliated to the GAP, which means that they share the same ideals and out them in practice in the maintenance of the great apes, allowing the development of natural behaviors, despite the situation of captivity, mainly the coexistence in hierarchical groups. The precursor – and today the largest one in Latin America – is the Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba, in São Paulo, which began its activities in the year 2000.
The Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba was founded by businessman and microbiologist Pedro Ynterian, who was president of the GAP International Project from 2008 to 2016 and today holds the position of Secretary General. It all began when Guga, who was three months old at the time, was “adopted” by Ynterian to be raised in his apartment in São Paulo. He quickly realized that Guga was not a pet and needed a larger space and the company of other chimpanzees. In this way the sanctuary was born and the interest for the promotion of the objectives of the GAP Project in Brazil and in the world.
GAP International General Organization Chart
President of Honor: Peter Singer
President: Pedro Pozas Terrados (Spain)
Vice President: Paulina Bermudez Landa (Mexico)
Secretary General: Pedro A. Ynterian (Brazil)