Several years ago I paid a visit to the zoo. It was on a Memorial Day weekend and it was hot. I supposed the zoo was far busier that holiday than it normally would be during the week.
Strolling down the trail past the 'exhibits,' I paused beside a pair of chimpanzees in their outdoor compound. They were sitting atop a large rock sunning themselves. I watched for several minutes as the public attempted interactions. Some were pretty goofy.
The chimps just sat there placidly staring back at us, coldly emotionless. In fact, as I stood there, I soon realized the inane attempts of the public trying to get the chimps to react were far more animated and amusing than the apes were. They were outshining the monkeys! As I walked on, I imagined one chimp saying to his partner, "It's a real zoo out there today, huh?"
This all took me back some years earlier to a visit to the Portland zoo. The camel and the penguins still stand out in my mind. But there was a very special moment that left me emotionally in tears. It was outside the indoor cage of a lone chimpanzee.
A group of four teenagers were having a ball harassing, then laughing at, the chimp who sat motionless watching the youngsters enjoying the infectious hillarity they shared. I was incredulous at the teens 'monkeying' around, not just for themselves or the chimp, but anyone else in the vicinity as well. It was then the chimpanzee did an amazing thing.
Without hint of emotion, he casually got up and strolled to the back of his cage between the dangling ropes and tire swing for a drink of water. He then returned to his former place next to the silly teenagers. Resuming their taunts, the chimp suddenly shot his mouth load of water at the kids. They wailed in laughter. Only because there was a glass wall between themselves and this monkey. I had to leave as the tears welled up in my eyes.
SCIENTISTS MAKE AN ASTOUNDING DISCOVERY!
Well, this week we learned that the knowledge base of science continues its endless march forward. I'm referring to the recent story about its latest discovery. Apparently, as a result of keen observations, we learned that much like ants, squirrels, blue jays and geckos, etc., chimpanzees make plans! Isn't that just fucking amazing!
This astute scientific conclusion was reached after observing "31-year-old alpha male started building a weapons cache in the morning before the zoo opened, collecting rocks and knocking out disks from concrete boulders inside his enclosure. He waited until around midday before he unleashed a hailstorm of rocks against visitors, the study said," causing Swedish scientists to conclude, " apes can plan ahead just like humans"! Holy shit, that's pretty damned incredible!
Conclusion of scientists: "These observations convincingly show that our fellow apes do consider the future in a very complex way," said .... Lund University Ph.D. student Mathias Osvath. "It implies that they have a highly developed consciousness, including lifelike mental simulations of potential events."
The behavior of this aggressive chimp in Sweden's Furuvik Zoo was very reminiscent of the similar behavior Dada had witnessed at the Portland zoo, leaving me to ponder how much further along animal behavioral scientists would have been today if only that Ph.D. candidate had been with me in Portland thirty years earlier.
Hence, at this point, Dada would like to make a suggestion that might save scientists a lot of time observing chimpanzees in the future. I know how they love to anthropomorphize by assigning human characteristics to actions of not just monkeys but the entire wild kingdom. However, no matter how long they observe chimps, they will never find them constructing banks and stock markets to swindle other chimps out of their rightful belongings. Nor will they discover chimps have secret caches of missile spewing drone aircraft or nuclear weapons to anihilate millions, perhaps billions of their fellow monkeys to defend the empires they build. That's because the apes don't build banks, stock markets, empires or the weapons required to defend them. That's also because there aren't billions of 'em to kill either. Sadly, they number about 300,000 globally.
So save yourself some time, science. You'll find the chimpanzees do not possess such amenities indicative of the advanced culture humans enjoy. Nor are they likely to ever possess such. That's because monkeys don't enjoy the extreme intelligence of your species. They are not as evolved as you are. Nor is it likely they ever will be, especially if you and your science has its way and succeeds in blowing 'em to oblivion. Including yourselves and millions of other species along with them, of course.
Such are the advantages of enjoying the benefits of being the most advanced intellectual species on the planet, I suppose.