Human interactions with chimpanzees may be especially dangerous if the chimpanzees perceive humans as potential rivals. “Owwww! Some scream or bang their heads against things, while others bite the caregivers who try to comfort them. But then time stopped. Gnala, shown here at 14 months, has already learned behaviors from humans. The human genome has been sequenced, as well as the chimpanzee genome.. I can do this, I tell myself. I have been watching the shows Orangutan Island and Escape to Chimp Eden on Animal Planet and couldn’t help noticing a difference in demeanor between the two types of apes. Are we hurting infants by not disciplining them like chimpanzees would? Yes, that's for sure. I know this has upset people. To outsiders, they have very nasty behaviors. She touched and was touched by bodies that aligned with hers. What might cause a chimp to attack someone it knows? They are being identified as great apes and the closest animal to humans with a 98% similarity in DNA. These organizations are trying to educate a public that seems largely unaware of the link between playful touch and harm. As Speede pointed out, we would have to compensate by going much further than biting. Children’s hands reached for her as they would a human baby or a hairy little doll. I suggested Gnala, which means “sweetheart” in Zarma, a language I spoke while serving in the Peace Corps in Niger 10 years earlier. Pet chimpanzees often attack their owners or … In general, ordinary chimpanzees are considered quite aggressive animals. The video is meaningless, but shows a dangerous animal, like all wild animals. Its mission is twofold: ensuring the welfare of rescued chimps and promoting species conservation by helping to stop poaching and the illegal chimpanzee trade. When I asked Speede, she answered: “That could work, while they’re young, but as they get stronger than us we’d have to be really brutal to keep that up. Though they may be docile at a very young age, they usually grow up to become aggressive wild animals. Chimps are territorial, and they have strong arms and sharp canine teeth. Gnala was different. Chimpanzees in the wild lead complex social lives; They form tribes, they make friends, they break up with friends. Hogan’s point gets to the heart of harm. Chimpanzee - Chimpanzee - Intelligence: Chimpanzees are highly intelligent and are able to solve many kinds of problems posed to them by human trainers and experimenters. That's why Jane Goodall had to habituate them. For Gnala, that ignorance could be dangerous. A male chimp, to assert dominance, could easily tear a normal human apart. This adult chimpanzee group shares an enclosure at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue that spans 20 acres. They say that visitor illness, easily communicated through touch, can kill a young chimpanzee. Nothing. To hoot like adult chimps, we dropped our voices a few octaves and grunted a loud, fast, “HOO!” Lisa stressed that understanding boundaries would help keep Gnala and Kimbang safer when it came time to integrate them with adult chimps. Chimpanzees are genetically closest to humans, and in fact, chimpanzees share about 98.6% of our DNA. When Gnala was just weeks old, a wealthy Cameroonian businessman bought her from a poacher. Captured infants may go as far as the Middle East, where demand for exotic pets is growing, or China, where zoo owners know a cute baby chimp will attract large crowds. Gnala!” I mumble as I snatch my hand back. During interviews, I began asking directors, managers, staff, and volunteers if we should make our touch a little more chimp. The Chimpanzees can be easily distinguished from the other family of great apes and monkeys because of their physical features. It is her sense of boundaries, and how untested they are, that is disquieting. Fossil and genetic evidence show that human and chimpanzee DNA are approximately 96-98 percent identical. Language and cooperation have helped humans to continually innovate, creating new technologies and expanding on existing ones. Sanctuaries try to transition infants from human care to living with other chimpanzees as soon as possible, because human touch is not enough for a chimp. She added, "Chimpanzees are incredibly strong and very reactive. Chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than to gorillas. In chimpanzees, we find that the one who gets more may also object to it, not just the one who gets less. Yes, we share around 99% of our DNA with them, but there's one key difference between our two species: grown chimpanzees have the strength of several adult humans. The chimps eat tropical fruits and vegetables bought from local farmers, and sleep in large night cages for protection from poachers. Most chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories were intentionally given diseases—such as HIV, hepatitis, cancer, respiratory viruses, malaria, and heart disease—even though advances in technology made these procedures irrelevant and decades of experimentation determined that chimpanzees’ bodies do not react in the same way to these diseases as humans’ do. It did. The man’s brother knew keeping a chimp was illegal in Cameroon, and he reported the situation to the sanctuary. They can show tremendous mutilation. Primatologist Frans de Waal has spent almost three decades studying the behavior and intelligence of chimpanzees… There are two living species of chimpanzee – the Common Chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, and the Bonobo or Pygmy Chimpanzee, Pan paniscus. [An edited transcript of the interview follows.] It may go off for a reason that we may never understand. Chimps that grow up apart from a normal group fail to learn the nuances of chimp etiquette, and are likely to behave abnormally. I cannot make myself say “no” like a chimp would. Portraying chimpanzees in this way on social media is also perpetuating the illegal pet trade in great apes, and as they cannot be domesticated, interactions with humans as displayed by this video are highly dangerous, as well as harmful to the well-being of the chimpanzee. , Chimpanzees are adapted for both arboreal and terrestrial locomotion. Although Gnala is one of the lucky orphans that made it to a sanctuary where humans encourage her chimpness, there is always a tipping point. Their features include: How does any of this do harm? A chimpanzee's strength and sharp teeth mean that attacks, even on adult humans, can cause severe injuries. – Both Chimpanzees and Gorillas are wild animals that can be tamed to be familiar with human presence. Chimpanzees are the smallest of the Great Apes and our closest living relatives. Baby chimpanzees look a lot like human babies. It was a grisly sight: a murdered chimpanzee, his body beaten, bloodied—and partially cannibalized—by the community he used to lead. Would playing with (healthy) visitors really hurt her? She had the run of the house, climbing on the couch and eating human food. Sanctuary staff often say that chimps like Gnala are the hardest to integrate, because chimps used in tourist attractions or kept as pets are largely ignorant of the role of aggression in chimpanzee society. With Ayumu, as you saw, we discovered that chimpanzees are better than humans at one type of memory test. Along with bonobos, they are our closest living relatives, sharing 98.7 percent of our genetic blueprint. Get our newsletter with new stories delivered to your inbox every Friday. The infant’s grip is so tight that poachers must pry her from her mother’s body. No, chimpanzees are not like human children. Gnala manages to flip her wrist and quickly dig her nails down deep into the back of my hand. Gnala, at age 2, has a powerful grip that allows her to navigate vines—and hang from humans. Do chimps in captivity show more aggressive behavior than those in the wild? Big ears framed a light-brown face, and her wide, honey-colored eyes made her seem perpetually surprised. Amy Hanes/Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue. The reason we have them behind bars in zoos and research settings is because chimpanzees can be very dangerous—it's to protect ourselves. Chimps are said to have a higher pain tolerance than humans. "When the two groups meet, they will not be as aggressive as chimpanzees," Tan says. Gnala is bigger now—though she is still the smallest chimp in the sanctuary. Dr. Jane first observed chimps using tools. Our touch, and our ability to be touched by Gnala, will be too weak. No dice. Henriette encouraged Gnala and Kimbang to do “chimp things” such as digging, climbing, and wrestling with each other. They bite off fingers. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent and are able to solve many kinds of problems posed to them by human trainers and experimenters. Yes chimpanzee's are dangerous. Her teeth were not pulled out with pliers to prevent her from biting. As a result, chimpanzees and humans share physiological, emotional, and behavioral traits. They set boundaries with her and integrated Gnala with Jantan when she hit her tipping point. What can humans learn about ourselves from studying chimpanzees? However, they do seem to be more adaptable and docile than chimpanzees do. Most of the time they attack through cage bars. The sanctuary had asked their Facebook followers to suggest names for a newly rescued chimp. This may have originated from cattle herded by humans, although Leendertz noted these may … Do not forget: we are prey, we make tools, use the tools. An adult chimpanzee is about twice a strong as a human. Really, I cannot believe this. The keepers do not need to tranquilize them or restrain them in order to move them or treat them for example. I hoot my best baritone hoot and bark her name, “GNALA!”. But while they have humanlike traits, their biggest threat comes from humans. 1 fan, Jane Goodall, concluded after decades of research that this ape is downright dangerous, saying, “I didn’t know chimpanzees can rip your face off." We move through the forest with her on our backs. Her muscles would not fully develop. Sheri Speede, an American veterinarian from Mississippi, founded the sanctuary in 1999. People must not assume that with someone they already know there's not some underlying tension. They go for the face; they go for the hands and feet; they go for the testicles. His children loved Gnala. But periodic violent attacks on humans, including one in Havilah, Calif., in 2005 in which a man was maimed by two chimps at an animal sanctuary, are reminders that the animals have at least one big difference: brute strength. Along with bonobos, they are our closest living relatives, sharing 98.7 percent of our genetic blueprint. National Geographic is reporting violent chimpanzees are becoming a very dangerous problem for some locals in Uganda. The orangutans seem affectionate and outgoing to Lone Dröscher Nielsen, the manager of the project, and to the teknisi who bring food to them and perform health checks. Aggression is a common part of the chimpanzee behavior, whether it's between or within groups. We share more of our DNA with chimpanzees than with monkeys or other groups, or even with other great apes! The website cautions that chimp babies appear cute and cuddly, and don't mind playing dress-up when young. The SYCR is committed to chimpanzee welfare. Chimpanzees can be very dangerous if they decide to attack someone. I became one of Gnala’s volunteer caregivers because, as a cultural anthropologist, I gather data by participating in what I study. The pair stayed close to Henriette, their full-time Cameroonian caregiver. It's all possible. They witness aggression when males injure one another while vying for the position of alpha and when their group kills outsider chimps encroaching on their territory. Jeffrey Brown: Before I met Gnala and Kimbang, Lisa (a pseudonym), an assistant manager from Belgium, explained to me that we were to provide reassurance and discipline to the infants. Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. The managers identified Jantan to care for Gnala and Kimbang as if they were her own. Yeah, definitely common. Being carried upright against a human chest would have been a mismatch for Gnala’s long arms. Many human processes have no direct comparisons in chimpanzees because of the substantive differences between our evolutionary trajectories. Comforting them when they were frightened would help them learn to trust. While typing field notes, I stopped midsentence to poke the bruise and see if it still hurt. Ducelier, a Cameroonian volunteer, carries playmates Kimbang (left) and Gnala (right) through the forest at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue. A chimpanzee's strength and sharp teeth mean that attacks, even on adult humans, can cause severe injuries. Travis was reportedly suffering from Lyme disease, caused by a tick-borne bacterium and known to cause fatigue, joint problems and mental difficulties—including trouble focusing and poor memory in humans. Given this fact, Gnala’s first contact with human hands would have likely been violent. Chimps and humans use chimpanzee alarm calls to communicate danger when they see cobras, vipers, or green mambas, one of the world’s deadliest snakes. In a 2015 study, zoologists at the University of Oxford analyzed visitor feedback on WTAs on the online review forum TripAdvisor. The threesome spends their time climbing, napping, and playing chase. Chimpanzees are great apes found across central and West Africa. But human touch outside of a real sanctuary—even if that touch is sweet—harms, and that harm cuts deep. Chimpanzees can be very dangerous if they decide to attack someone. The infants that know human touch—how human hands hold and human fingers tickle—are often unfamiliar with chimp social boundaries. They discourage wildlife enthusiasts from visiting “fake sanctuaries” that let tourists play with wild animals. I t is … No, chimpanzees are not like human children. Once he’d corrected the measurement for their smaller body sizes, chimpanzees did turn out to be stronger than humans—but not by a factor of five or anything close to it. At least six cases of chimpanzees snatching and eating human babies are documented. We dig in the dirt next to her. To find out more about chimpanzee attacks, we spoke with Frans de Waal, lead biologist from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Are orangutans dangerous to humans? Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at, What's in Your Wiener? All five of her long fingers are threaded through my hair. Are Zombie Bees Infiltrating Your Neighborhood. A chimp can live for about 50 years, and 10 is usually the age when people don't want them any more. Cultural Intelligence It is generally accepted that chimpanzees possess culture, in the sense of acquired information being passed down the generations and shared with other members of an animal's social grouping. Gnala, age 4, sits on a high platform with Jantan, an adult female who is helping the younger chimps learn more about their species’ behaviors and norms. Small, teeth-shaped scabs crusted over its center. And then I laugh because I do not know what else to do. They often bite off the victims fingers/toes, tear off the testicles, and just destroy the body. In general, in chimpanzees—because they are so genetically close to us—they will react very similarly to drugs. What happens when people decide they can't live with a chimpanzee pet any longer? Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, and yet they were unknown to the most of world until Charles Darwin wrote about and popularized them in 1859. © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. 14 hours ago — Daniel Cusick and E&E News, 16 hours ago — Ewen Callaway and Nature magazine, 19 hours ago — Meghan Bartels and SPACE.com. Like human children, they like to bite. That was the day I began to question my own assumptions about harm and human touch. Having a chimp in your home is like having a tiger in your home. I imagine that this rubber band motion feels like a hard pinch to Gnala, and it usually stops her from doing whatever she is doing. She left with a deeper appreciation of how human contact, though necessary to rehabilitate and heal rescued wildlife, can also leave lasting scars. Chimpanzees. But a pro wrestler would not be able to hold a chimpanzee still if they wanted to. It might be that the dosages are different, but it really should be pretty much the same. chimpanzees and the monkeys was significant. It happens more often with people they don't know very well and people who aren't familiar with chimpanzees. They see how grooming others can solidify shifting alliances. Amy Hanes/Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue. Much about them has only been discovered recently, and misconceptions abound due to the exaggerations and artistic licence used in works of fiction. Chimpanzees are considered as the most intelligent of all the animals. I was there to understand “care.” What is it for one species to care for and about another? Rachel Hogan, a conservationist originally from the U.K., directs Ape Action Africa (AAA), the largest primate sanctuary in Cameroon. I grab her at the waist to support her weight and relieve pressure. Both HIV-1 and HIV-2 are believed to have originated in non-human primates in West-central Africa and were transferred to humans in the early 20th century. Springer Nature America, Inc. support our award-winning coverage of advances in science technology. 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