In February, 55-year-old Charla Nash made headlines around the world when she was brutally attacked by a friend’s 200-pound pet chimpanzee. She decided to reveal her disfigured face on Oprah this week and I am posting a clip* because I have extremely strong emotions concerning this particular issue–foremost as a result of my conservation biology background and also due to my friendship with science writer Vanessa Woods and her husband, evolutionary anthropologist Dr. Brian Hare. Together they study sanctuary orphans in Congo and often mothers have been killed so the babies can be sold as pets.
Most people still do not seem to understand the gravity of this issue. After watching, make sure to read Brian’s original guest contribution on the science behind why chimpanzees are not pets below the fold.
(A warning to readers of graphic content.)
The Science Behind Why Chimpanzees Are Not Pets
by Brian Hare, Evolutionary Anthropologist at Duke University
Last month, a 200 pound male chimpanzee named Travis mauled a woman outside the home where he has been living with his owner Sandra Herold. Charla Nash was nearly killed by Travis and now has life changing wounds to her face while Travis was stabbed by his owner with a butcher knife and shot dead by the police.
Was this incidence preventable or just a freak accident? Should chimpanzees and other primates be kept as pets? What is the effect of the primate pet trade not only on the welfare of these “pets” but on their species survival in the wild? To answer these question I consider what science has to say and draw on both my own work on domestication and over 50 years of research by primatologists on wild chimpanzees. Read More