Dying 59-year-old chimpanzee recognizes old friend

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/18/dying-59-year-old-chimpanzee-r.html


this is why I can’t support zoos.


After watching this I’ll never be able to eat chimp again.


I didn’t cry when I saw it, but I almost did. Really. I’m not lying.


Thank you for a thorough fit of the giggles.

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How so? I’m not a huge fan of caging animals myself but there is no way a chimpanzee could live to 59 years in the wild and be allowed to die peacefully in a safe spot with access to suitable food, water and (possibly?) pain medication. There are no retirement homes in the jungle and once an animal becomes old and weak, it is eaten alive from the inside by disease or parasites or from the outside by predators.


Having a long life is not a measure of a good life and all death is violent, ugly, and done alone. I’m sure I would live much longer than normal if you locked me alone in a cage and provided the scientifically correct diet and excellent medical care. I would still be a prisoner and I would likely loose my mind. I certainly would not say I was living a good life in those circumstances.

Which is preferable to years years behind bars aging to decay, pain, and loss of physical and mental faculties. In nature, the old a weak do not long suffer their condition.


Surprisingly, this is not at all a standard we apply to ourselves. Kicking out grandmas into snowstorms so they do not long suffer their condition is generally frowned upon. On what basis do you suppose chimpanzees have different preferences?


On what basis do you equate allowing an animal to live and die in the environment for which it evolved with kicking grandma out into a snowstorm?
Your question is inapplicable to this situation as it addresses a position not being proffered here.


You are quite probably going to lose that argument of you think in terms of “natural environment” and “evolved for”.

Just sayin’.


Zoos aren’t a black and white thing. We understand much more about biology because zoos exist. Zoos (at least the good ones) are among the leaders in promoting and enacting conservation efforts world-wide. Zoos inspire many people to think more about our environment and its non-human inhabitants. That isn’t to say that zoos are the best, or only model of conservation, but I think it’s fair to say they’ve evolved beyond being a form of entertainment. The captivity of animals is a necessary evil for zoos to do what they do though. Moments like this make it hard not to see the kinship that we share with other animals.


Humans naturally evolved for the African savanna, with a local median life expectancy of around 30. Then we spent the next 100.000 years on various efforts to get out of there, avoid our natural environment as far as possible and achieve better existential conditions, including the luxury of dying of old age.


Is it? Is it impossible to promote and enact conservation efforts unless you cage an animal? Is it required to lock them up in order to study them?

Quite right. All of these efforts Humans have put forth have benefited us greatly and we have evolved both societally and physically to adapt to the world we have created for ourselves. Chimps do not have such a history. They don’t have the benefit of 100,000 years of change to prepare them for the world of cage we choose to house them in. Come to think of it, we consider caging a human to be something we only do as punishment. So, it seems to me, even we who have adapted ourselves to artificial living do not thrive in a cage either. Why would you suppose that a chimp might?


What a beautiful and loving relationship between this old and weary matron chimp and this caring and kind man. There is sentience in this living being on display for all to see. I see sentience in my cats. They display all the emotions a human being would, despite what many folks state is an anthropogenic self perspective. On the other hand, what a horrible, disonorable place for this matriarch to pass on into the hereafter. I will never grace a zoo with my presence. They are prisons for intelligent, feeling animals who have a right to live in their natural environment.


There are some more examples, but this one is quite widely known. There will be more examples in the future - if the natural habitat of the species in question are still existing, or can be restored.

This is far from perfect. But assuming that today’s zoos are just lock-ups, as you seem to imply, is quite far off.

Also, to answer your question, there is still a lot of research depending on animals in zoos. I would think Manfred Niekisch, Professor for International Nature Conservation and nowadays director of the Frankfurt zoo (and hence treading in the footsteps of Bernhard Grzimek, of Serengeti shall not die fame) would have to say quite a lot about this, and would do it much better than I do.


something is wrong with that video, it made my whole screen go blurry. :cry:


I have no doubt a zoo director would defend the institution.


To paraphrase your starting statesmen: this is why I can’t support dogmatism.


Captive breeding can be done in an environment simulating the animals natural habitat. Keeping these majestic creatures in a concrete and steel cage is reprehensible.

Well, good that we are talking about one of them, isn’t it?

Or that I mentioned another one.

(Seriously, someone needs to improve english language wikipedia on those!)