Site update

Since I have been really terrible at updating the blog (but pretty good at keeping up with the facebook blog posts) I've added the widget below so that facebook cross posts to the blog.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rant of the Week - captive chimpanzee attacks

Maybe you have heard about the chimp attack victim who is sitting down with Oprah this week to show her face and tell her story. Here is a link from ABC news on her story.

Eventhough I sympathize with the victim, the issue i find incredibly irritating about all this is that her mauling is not teaching anyone anything about how to prevent such things in the future. At the end of the ABC article, like any article about such attacks, are statements such as this:
  • "Herold [the owner] said Travis [the chimpanzee] was acting strangely earlier in the day of the attack so she gave him the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, but later retracted that statement."
  • "Police at the time of the attack speculated that a previous bout with Lyme disease may have accounted for the animal's reported mood swings."
But Travis' "moodiness" simply is not the issue.

First of all, chimpanzees are territorial animals that naturally undertake border patrols and inter-community attacks, where chimps from neighbouring groups are essentially torn apart, much in the same way that the victim in this chimp attack was.
Second, wild animals kept in captivity are like humans kept in workcamps or otherwise unjustly imprisoned; behavioural problems are bound to be observed in these indivduals (one could argue that this does not hold true in zoos with plenty of enrichment and socialization, but that is clearly not the case when owners are privately housing chimpanzees).

This is not in anyway to condone these attacks, this is to say, you can not take non-domesticated animals* and put them in your home and have any expectations other than that they will act according to their natural behavioural repertoire.

Keeping big cats, primates or other wild animal as pets or to use as entertainment is utterly pointless. The animals live sub standard lives (and often shot dead as with Travis) and people end up mauled.

*even if animals has been bred for a few generations in captivity, this is FAR from domesticated and although not wild-born, they are still wild animals.

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