Saturday, March 21, 2009

Will we ever learn?

I talked about what happened with Travis the chimp in this story. Yesterday I came across two other recent situations involving primates. The first story comes from

A chimpanzee at Sweden’s Furuvik Zoo has been observed chipping at concrete to create discs to throw at visitors. He even made weapons at night to throw at visitors when the zoo opens in the morning.

While Santino the chimp’s retaliatory ways are amusing, they’ve also impressed scientists who believe this is the first evidence of a non-human animal being capable of making plans for the future.

“It implies that they have a highly developed consciousness, including life-like mental simulations of potential events,” said Mathias Osvath, a scientist who studied Santino for over a decade. “They most probably have an ‘inner world’ like we have when reviewing past episodes of our lives or thinking of days to come. I would guess that they plan much of their everyday behaviour.”

Osvath’s observations are only one of many studies that show that non-human primates are capable of some human-like thought. Another recent study showed baboons are capable of matching pictures and recognizing objects.

Unfortunately for Santino, the zoo didn’t think his stone-throwing ways were very cute. They’ve castrated the 31-year-old chimp, thinking it may lower his hormone levels and make him less aggressive.

The second story comes out of Thailand. Leilit Janchoom and his wife purchased a monkey named Brother Kwan. They bought him so he could climb trees and fetch coconuts for them to sell. Mr. Janchoom did not allow the monkey to rest and would beat him if he refused to climb a tree. It is thought that Brother Kwan eventually snapped and dropped a coconut on Mr. Janchoom's head, killing him on the spot.

Animals are smart, people, and you can't treat them badly or try to make a wild animal your pet because 9 times out of 10, they will get their revenge.

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