I'm sitting in Tchimpounga, with its 140 orphan chimpanzees. Today we did one of our tests with Marcel, a young chimp about 5 years old. We know he's smart because one of our friends has worked with him before.
But before the test could even start, he lay down on the floor and started rocking. It's a signal of trauma. It happens when chimps are taken from their mothers when they are very young and kept in a confined space. It's a rare behaviour here because normally, chimps are really resiliant, and when they have a new peer group, and a forest to play in, they quickly recover.
In other words, it's really hard to fuck up a chimp. They are total surviors. So watching Marcel rock on the floor, something he'll do for the rest of his life, made me really sad, and really angry.
Because so often, people think that Africa has all these problems because Africa is a fucked up continent.
But chimps like Marcel get screwed over because of things like this:
Using chimps in the entertainment industry, advertisements, and keeping chimps as pets like this asshole:
all lead to chimpanzees getting shot and infants taken off their mother to be sold as pets or to the entertainment industry overseas. And of course every pet dealer and entertainment person will tell you their chimps were bred in country but the papers to prove this can be forged with a wordprocessor. And even if their chimps were born in country, the purchase and sale of infant chimps fuels the pet trade in Africa. And not just with chimps.
This is Malou.
She's a baby bonobo that was found in the luggage of a European couple at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
The main problem is that chimps and bonobos start out like this.
Totally sweet and adorable. But they eventually turn into this.
Any one of these grown chimps would be perfectly capable of throwing Arnie Swarzanneggar against the wall while he was in his Terminator prime days. (Btw, did you know that Michael Jackson had a lot of Bubbles'? Because a Bubbles could only be carried around and look cute for so long, then he got thrown into an enclosure with all the other Bubbleses)
This is an excerpt from a Washington Post article about a couple that raised a baby chimpanzee and were later attacked by two ex-actor chimpanzees in their teens:
LaDonna watched as one latched onto St. James’ head, the other onto hisIt's the most amazing article I've ever read and you should read it in full: Go to the article
foot. She chokes on the words: “They virtually were – I don’t know how
you say it – eating him alive.”
Davis says she screamed, and the Brauers’ son-in-law, Mark Carruthers,
came running. Carruthers retrieved a handgun, according to Davis and
police accounts. As Buddy lifted his head, Carruthers fired a single
bullet into the animal’s brain.
As Buddy fell away, Ollie began dragging St. James’ mutilated body
away. The 62-year-old man was conscious but near death. He had lost his
nose, an eye, most of his fingers, both testicles and much of the flesh
from his buttocks and face and left foot.
I've had my head slammed against iron bars by a chimpanzee and been pretty deeply bitten by a bonobo, both under five years old. (ok it doesn't look that bad but it hurt like a bitch and notice the extensive brusing)
So what happens to chimpanzee actors and pets once they turn around seven and start biting people's fingers off? You need to control them with force. So then comes the electric shock collars, pulling out their teeth, extensive beatings.
But you can't beat a chimpanzee into submission forever. Because they know they're stronger than you and if I've learnt anything, it's that they are smart, super smart. And just because they aren't rocketing to the moon or driving cars, doesn't mean they won't outwit you from time to time.
And that's when they get put down. Or sent to biomedical laboratories. Zoos won't accept them because they are too fucked up to fit into a social group.
And it all comes back to little Marcel, rocking on the floor of his enclosure.
So please, don't buy products from companies who use chimps in advertising. That would be Pepsi, Puma, and Dolce & Gabbana (sorry girls). If you can be bothered, write a letter or an email to the companies that use them. A good draft of a letter to write was written by Jane Goodall
If you see chimps in a circus, be aware that they beat them backstage or use some other kind of force (there is lots of video documentary of this).
And for God's sake, do not buy a chimp or a bonobo. They might not make it the next 50 years in the wild. Don't make it any worse.