Blog - JGI Chimpanzee Blog
You may have read about the "mark test" or "mirror test." It's a way scientists study self-awareness or self-recognition. They surreptitiously put a colored dot or other mark on a subject -- often somewhere on the face. If, while looking in a mirror, subjects touch their marks or adjust their position to see them better, it's clear they understand they're looking at an image of themselves, rather than at other beings. Species that have passed the mark test include all great apes, bottlenose dolphins and magpies.
Save the Chimps, a sanctuary in Ft. Pierce, Florida for former laboratory and entertainment chimpanzees (including the "astrochimps" the Air Force used in research), found a creative solution to the problems created by transporting chimpanzees for medical care: a mobile vet lab.
On July 14, 2010, it will be 50 years to the day that Jane Goodall first stepped out of a game warden’s boat onto the pebbly beach at the Gombe Chimpanzee Reserve in what is today Tanzania. At the time, she expected to be in the forest observing wild chimpanzees for 3 or 4 months.
A new study reports that great apes were wiped out in ancient Europe when climate and environmental changes replaced forests with grasslands. The change meant monkeys thrived but great apes did not. "Ancient relatives of modern orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and gibbons were able to survive in Asia and Africa, where those changes were not as drastic," reports the BBC.
"Scientists building Green Corridor to connect fading chimps colony to nearby mountains" -- USA Today
Japanese biologists have now begun to plant a corridor of trees across a savanna to try to connect one tiny isolated group of chimpanzees to a mountain range where thousands live.
Here's an interesting Planet Earth article about a study monitoring the impact of tourists and scientists on western lowland gorillas. Findings suggest it may be worthwile to increase the distance humans are required to keep from the gorillas, to keep the stress levels low and avoid possible aggression. The researchers note that there are other factors influencing the gorillas' behavior and that further study is needed.
It's a scenario you'll recognize. A Mom's firm "no," via shade of the head, to her toddler, who is getting into something he or she shouldn't.
Scientists studying great ape infant behavior witnessed 4 bonobos shaking their heads in ways that appeared to mean "no" on 13 different occasions. The observation raises the question: Is the "no" head shake hard-coded in humans?
"United Nations peacekeepers in Congo have used helicopters to airlift endangered baby gorillas to a sanctuary after they were rescued in a conflict zone where they faced being captured or eaten." The gorillas are part of a reintroduction effort. Read the full article in Reuters India.
Scientists are validating and advancing Jane Goodall's early observations that chimpanzees experience grief (among other "human" emotions). When a 50-year-old chimpanzee named Pansy was dying in a zoo in Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Parkin in Stirlingshire, Scotland, companion chimps gathered around her, groomed her and caressed her. Her daughter slept by her side even after she died.
If you did not know that bonobos are matriarchal and use sex to maintain harmony, you'll want to read this introduction to bonobos from Live Science and primatologist Brian Hare. He has done several studies at our sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees, the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo.
Did you know there is some exciting momentum around the issue of chimpanzees used in invasive research?
Best estimates are that more than 1,000 chimpanzees are in labs in the U.S., either being used for painful and terrifying experiments or being warehoused in case they are wanted. One chimpanzee named Karen was taken from the wild as an infant and kept in a lab for more than 50 years.
If you care to learn about this issue and spread the word, here are some other facts to pocket:
We are great apes, as are orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. Do you know anyone who resists or dislikes that notion? If so, you'll enjoy this piece by biologist Ursula Goodenough, for NPR. Check it out and you'll learn about a new book titled I'm Lucy: A Day in the Life of a Young Bonobo, and how to get a copy. Profits benefit the Bonobo Conservation Initiative.
Wired Science reports on a study that suggests females are the carriers of chimpanzee culture, rather than males. In an analysis of data from 7 communities of wild chimpanzees by scientists at Stockholm University, researchers found that the number of cultural traits correlated with the number of females in the community, but not with the number of males. The long-term research they looked at included the ongoing study Jane Goodall began in 1960, at Gombe National Park in Tanzania.