Photo – left up clockwise: Chimpanzee (GAP), Orangutan (GAP), Gorilla (UNEP/YOG) and Bonobo (Lola ya Bonobo).
From the biological point of view, between two humans there may be a 0.5% difference in DNA. Between a man and a chimpanzee, the difference is only 1.23%. Such proximity is demonstrated by the fact, for example, that chimpanzees may be blood donors to humans and vice versa. Today it is also known that chimpanzees, bonobos and men had a common ancestor two million years ago.
Faced with these facts, the illegal market (trafficking of animals for various purposes) and the commercial exploitation of the great apes in research laboratories, circuses, shows and zoos can be considered as speciesism, compared to slavery – remembering what mankind used to do with human individuals considered to be inferior due to their skin color until little more than a century ago.
This exploitation, combined with the destruction of forests in Africa and Asia by aggressive industrial and commercial activities, results in a drastic reduction in the number of great apes in their original habitats, posing a major threat to species and the environmental balance of ecosystems.
The GAP Project – Great Ape Project defends the right of great apes to live in freedom in their habitats. From the moment they are deprived of this right and become victims of ill-treatment, lacking the ability to live in the forests, the mission is to offer the best quality of life and well-being possible to animals in the captivity regime. In sanctuaries, great apes are treated for physical scars – tooth extraction and mutilation, for example – and psychological and stress traumas caused by an imprisoned life in cages for exhibition or entertainment. Therefore, they have a chance to recover, form social groups and live fairly.
“A chimpanzee is not a pet and can not be used as a mere entertainment or guinea pig. They think, feel, hate, suffer, learn and even transmit their learning. They are just like us. The only difference is that they do not speak, although they communicate through gestures, sounds and facial expressions. We need to guarantee their rights to life and freedom,” explains Dr. Pedro Ynterian, founder of the GAP Brazil Project, former International President and current General Secretary of the GAP International Project and owner of the Sorocaba Sanctuary of Great Primates in São Paulo, affiliated to GAP.