Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Have you heard about the report published in Current Biology that describes a thirty-one year old chimpanzee named Santino? He resides in the Furuvik Zoo about 93 miles outside of Stockholm. Apparently Santino has become so annoyed with zoo visitors that he began to stockpile an arsenal of rocks. Now when guests get on his nerves, he has something to hurl at them. Luckily, Santino's aim is poor. The article's author Mathias Osvath, feels his behavior verifies that apes may be capable of thinking and planning for future events, just like people. He goes on to say that "It is normal behavior for alpha males to want to influence their surroundings ... It is extremely frustrating that there are people out of his reach who are pointing at him and laughing. It cannot be good to be so furious all the time."
Boy, I'll say.
Does anyone else hear a strange ring of recognition? Planning to get back at those who repeatedly taunt you? Stockpiling weapons? Launching an attack? The entire situation sounds like a mini-version of war to me. Perhaps apes are even more like humans than was already suspected.
Needless to say, Furuvik Zoo staff needed to take drastic steps. After all, visitors pay the bills, and inhabitants are expected to show more respect than to pelt them with flying pieces of rock. So in an effort to prevent Santino from taking any more pot shots, a decision was made to castrate him. If this works out, I hope someone lets me know.
Perhaps then I could suggest a solution for human warfare, too.