Posts Tagged ‘Chimpanzees’

Chimps Not So Selfish: Comforting Behavior May Well Be Expression Of Empathy

June 19, 2008

Compared to their sex-mad, peace-loving bonobo counterparts, chimpanzees are often seen as a scheming, war-mongering, and selfish species. As both apes are allegedly our closest relatives, together they are often depicted as representing the two extremes of human behaviour.

Orlaith Fraser, who will receive her PhD from LJMU’s School of Biological Sciences in July 2008, has conducted research that shows chimpanzee behaviour is not as clear cut as previously thought. Her study is the first one to demonstrate the effects of consolation amongst chimpanzees.

In her recently published article, Fraser analyses how the apes behave after a fight. Working with Dr Daniel Stahl of Kings College London and Filippo Aureli, LJMU’s Professor of Animal Behaviour, she found that third-party chimpanzees will try to console the ‘victim’ of the fight by grooming, hugging and kissing.

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Humans Likely Making Chimps Sick

June 17, 2008

Humans are likely the source of a virus that is making chimps sick in Africa, new research suggests.

After studying chimpanzees in Tanzania for the past year, Virginia Tech researcher Taranjit Kaur and her team have obtained data from molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations that demonstrate how the chimpanzees living there at Mahale Mountains National Park have been suffering from a respiratory disease that is likely caused by a variant of a human paramyxovirus.

Paramyxovirus causes various human diseases including mumps and measles. The virus also can cause distemper in dogs and seals, cetacean morbillivirus in dolphins and porpoises, Newcastle disease virus in birds and rinderpest virus in cattle.

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Ape Applicant Vies for Star on Walk of Fame

June 17, 2008

Three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame have gone to the dogs, so why can’t Cheeta the chimp get some love? The animal actor, whose credits include the 1967 comedy “Dr. Doolittle” and the “Tarzan” movies, is trying for the seventh time to get a sidewalk star and become the first monkey to get the honor. His handlers have launched an online petition to get supporters to urge the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to give him a star in 2009.

Each June, the Walk of Fame Committee picks from hundreds of nominations a list of inductees for the next year.

Cheeta’s “inclusion on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will not only give recognition to one of the international, animal megastars of all time, but focus attention on his fellow primates in the wilds of Africa who now face extinction,” the petition reads.

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Terry O’Neill on getting critters declared legal ‘persons’: Will animal rightists succeed where pro-lifers have failed?

June 3, 2008

If you’ve been to Olympic Plaza in Calgary or to Parliament Hill in Ottawa recently, you’ve probably come across an installation of five statues depicting the “Famous Five” — the five Canadian women whose lawsuit led to the historic declaration in 1929 that women are to be considered “persons” under Canadian law.

The sculptural tableau is a dramatic tribute to the accomplishments of Emily Murphy, Nellie Mooney McClung, Irene Marryat Parlby, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards. But on the heels of the last week’s news about a case currently making its way through the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the question must be asked: Should the bronzes of Emily, Nellie and their friends now be accompanied by ones depicting Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail?

That’s certainly a possibility (albeit an intentionally flippant one) given the wide-ranging impact that will be felt should the European court agree with an argument being advanced by the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories, which is seeking to have a 26-year-old chimpanzee named Matthew declared a legal “person.”

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Surgeon Operates To Rescue Chimp With Rare Deformity

May 20, 2008

An orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Liverpool has performed a groundbreaking operation on a chimp in Cameroon to correct a deformity more commonly seen in dogs.

The three year-old chimp called Janet was rescued from the Cameroon pet trade last year and now lives in a chimpanzee reserve supported by the Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund. Janet was unable to climb and had difficulty walking because a bone in her forearm – the ulna – had stopped growing.

It is thought that her condition, known as angular limb deformity, is a congenital problem, but could also have been caused or aggravated by being chained at the wrist by traders. This forced the arm’s radius to grow in a circular manner making her arm severely bent. Vets have seen the deformity in dogs before but never in chimpanzees and were called in to assess Janet’s condition.

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Animals and Us, Not So Far Apart

April 14, 2008

Ever since Galileo argued that the sun was the center of the solar system, the idea of Earth as the universal hub has been the classic example of scientific arrogance. It’s certainly a foolproof example of the way humans consider themselves the rule by which everything else should be measured, but when we use it, there’s a sense that we don’t make that kind of mistake anymore. Yet even today scientists are swayed by the notion that humans stand at the center of the biological universe, especially when it comes to what we care about most: our minds.

For years, scientists believed that the parts of the human brain that supported complex thought and language had only recently evolved. The mental life of animals was treated as primitive and utterly distinct from ours. But an explosion in animal research is showing that many components of human thought are shared with other species. Evidence shows that parrots can understand numbers, crows make tools, elephants and hyenas live in complex, rule-governed societies, and chimpanzees make sense of the world in many of the same ways we do. The implication is indisputable: Humans are not unique.

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American Veterinary Medical Association testifies against keeping primates as pets

April 3, 2008

Citing concerns about the spread of disease and injury, inhumane treatment of animals, and ecologic damage, Dr. Gail C. Golab, director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division, recently spoke before a House subcommittee on the dangers of private ownership of nonhuman primates by unlicensed individuals.

The House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans held a hearing March 11 on the Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2964). The legislation would amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981, making chimpanzees, monkeys, and other nonhuman primates prohibited wildlife species, thus strictly limiting commerce in pet primates.

Persons or agencies licensed or registered by the government, such as zoos and research facilities, are exempt under the proposal.

Born Free USA and Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition estimate that more than 15,000 primates are privately owned in the United States.

Between 1995 and 2005, there were 132 injuries or escapes by primates in the United States, according to the coalition. Also, some 80 percent of health and behavioral issues pertaining to primates involve those kept as pets.

Dr. Golab told subcommittee members that the evidence is clear that primates kept as pets are unsafe. Not only are these animals a physical threat, they may also be a source of the herpes B virus and other zoonotic pathogens. “Make no mistake about it,” Dr. Golab, said, “nonhuman primates kept as pets—while cute and often very entertaining—can also pose serious injury risks for their human caretakers and other domestic animals.”

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Beastly Banter: New Book Highlights Debate Over Animals’ Language Skills

February 25, 2008

From the days of Melampus, the soothsayer of Greek mythology who conspired with termites and vultures, right up to Mr. Ed, the idea of talking animals is one that won’t go away.

A quick look around shows that time has hardly changed things. For years, researchers have studied the songs of birds and whales, hoping to suss out a secret language. The cover story of the March issue of National Geographic, “Inside Animal Minds,” tells of a border collie with a 340-word vocabulary and a bonobo who understands more than 1,000 words. Last month, researchers reported that they had developed a computer program that successfully deciphers dog barks.

And today marks the release of what might be the first biography of a laboratory research animal, “The Chimp Who Would Be Human” (Bantam, $23). Written by Elizabeth Hess, it tells the story of the chimpanzee who became the center of a bitter debate in the 1970s over whether animals possess what could be called language. Publisher’s Weekly states that the book “captures Nim’s legendary charm, mischievous sense of humor, and keen understanding of human beings.”

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Study: More Deadly Diseases Crossing Barrier From Animals to Humans

February 21, 2008

Scores of deadly infectious diseases are crossing the species barrier from animals to humans, scientists have reported.

A three-year investigation has shown that since 1940 around 250 viruses such as HIV, Ebola Virus, Sars and H5N1 bird flu have jumped from wild animals to people.

Presenting the first-ever map of “hotspots” of new infectious diseases in the British journal Nature, researchers predicted the next pandemic is most likely to come out of poor tropical countries.

It is here where burgeoning human populations most frequently come into contact with wildlife.

The report said that if a monitoring system is not put in place “then human populations will continue to be at risk from pandemic diseases”.

HIV/Aids, which has killed or infected as many as 65 million people worldwide, is believed to have jumped from chimpanzees to humans, possibly through hunters who killed and butchered apes.

Most new diseases come from wild animals, especially mammals, which are the most closely related species to humans.

Pathogens that adapt to humans can be extremely lethal, as we have no resistance to them.

“We are crowding wildlife into ever-smaller areas, and human population is increasing,” said the report’s co-author Marc Levy.

“Where those two things meet, that is a recipe for something crossing over.”

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“Genius” Chimp Outsmarts Tube

February 13, 2008

Humane Society slams blood pressure study on chimps

January 24, 2008
The Humane Society of the United State (HSUS) has come out swinging in its opposition to an experiment conducted on 110 chimps at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The experiment was intended to show the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The Humane Society says the “use of chimpanzees for yet another study on salt was simply unwarranted.”
The amount of evidence that “salt affects blood pressure in humans is vast and has even been cited by the salt industry itself,” says Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for animal research issues at the HSUS. The chimpanzees were fed varying levels of sodium over two years and were knocked down with anesthetics at least twice a year for blood pressure measurements. A similar experiment published in 1995 already showed that increasing salt in a chimpanzee’s diet causes their blood pressure to rise.
“The American Heart Association’s website, which oversees the very journal that printed this study, along with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, all say that to lower blood pressure, people should consume less salt. There was absolutely no scientific need for these animals to undergo this experiment,” Conlee explains…
.“There should not be valuable funds wasted on research involving endangered species to tell us something we all already know,” says Conlee. “The 1,200 chimpanzees remaining in laboratories, some of who have been there for more than 50 years should be provided with permanent sanctuary and spared from this and other experimentation.”
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Happy to take animal organs, unless it’s Spot

January 23, 2008


Researchers in Queensland have found that most people will happily accept cells and tissues from a dog or cat if it means a cure for their disease – but only if the animal is bred expressly for xenotransplantation.

Scientists have long thought people would not accept organs from animals which were usually kept as household pets, or from primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees. But a researcher from the Queensland University of Technology, Peta Cook, found most people were not that fussy.

“It’s fascinating because scientists have always categorised animals by their species, but it seems that individuals are more likely to look at an animal’s purpose,” Ms Cook said.

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