BBC reinventing the wheel

Posted in 07/08/2019

Luke (GAP)

In recent days, a BBC video circulating on social networks features chimpanzees of an African Sanctuary walking on two feet and requesting food from their African keepers. BBC is known for producing extraordinary documentaries of wildlife and the animal world. It could not conclude that two-foot chimps would be a product of the torture they suffered, staying in cages where they could only stay on two feet.

Like humans who imitate each other, chimpanzees copy us too. We have several chimpanzees in the Great Ape Sanctuary of Sorocaba that not only stand but also walk two feet. Quite simply: if you give a chimpanzee food that he or she likes and he or she wants to go to a quiet corner of the enclosure to enjoy it, he or she uses the hands to carry things and walks on two feet until reaches the favorite spot for the tasting.

When chimpanzees are born they have hands very similar to ours. Over time, by using them for walking and running, they will deform them by doing this function. The simple explanation is that chimpanzees were ordering food from their two-footed keepers, and to better visualize and draw their attention, they mimic standing on two feet.

A few days ago I gave Luke, a circus chimpanzee, who didn’t live in tiny cages, several pots with seeds and dried fruits. He had to walk carrying five pots from his dormitory, go through a tunnel and reach the open area in his enclosure, where he has a favorite corner to enjoy the food he likes best. What did he do? He placed two pots in each hand, one in his mouth and walked two feet for 30 meters. In addition, he climbed a ramp that leads to the second floor, balancing on two feet. I was with him and offered him help, but he did not accept, showing that he could walk on two feet when necessary.

We have long believed that chimpanzees are our brothers, have our DNA and our blood, and the ability to learn and develop a human-like culture, even with the limitations that their lack of spoken language, life and history have been being imposed.

Dr. Pedro A. Ynterian

General Secretary

GAP Project International

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