”If we could talk to the animals….”

…it’d be a horrific abuse of their rights.


Monkey World director Dr Alison Cronin has launched a stinging attack on the research of a visiting American academic and has urged students in the south to boycott her lecture.

*gets popcorn peanuts*

The University of Portsmouth is hosting a visit on Wednesday by Professor Sally Boysen from the Department of Psychology at Ohio State University.Her lecture on ‘chimpanzee intelligence’ is the result of 35 years of researching the creatures, say university chiefs.

And it seems to be the type of research that’s the problem.

Baring her teeth, grimacing and display-hooting, Dr Cronin goes on the attack:

But Dr Cronin says such research is unnecessary and has been conducted at the expense of orphaned chimpanzees that have been removed from their mothers at birth and are then trained to participate in sign language and cognitive experiments.

She advances menacingly on her rival, beating tree trunks with stripped branches…

She added: “The chimpanzees suffers terrible emotional and psychological damage throughout their lives and by the age of five or six develop into anti-social and dangerous wild animals that do not know how to get along with their own kind.”

Screeching at top volume, she begins flinging handfuls of her own poo to drive away the intruder:

In one of her most outspoken public attacks to date, Dr Cronin added: “I want to meet the person who is clever enough to learn chimpanzee communication, not the one that abuses their power to force wild animals to behave like themselves.”

But wait! Lookee here:

And by coincidence Monkey World is having a private preview tonight of a film produced for the BBC called Project Nim, highlighting the plight of one of the first American sign language chimpanzees.

Hmmm, suddenly all the display behaviour seems less a prelude to a full on attack, and more like that unique-to-the-human-ape event, the publicity bid:

A statement from Professor Boysen, Leverhume Trust visiting professor in the Department of Psychology at Portsmouth, said: “This statement from Monkey World is both inaccurate and misleading. The body of work by the many researchers in the field, published over the last 50 years, has profoundly informed the scientific world and the public about chimpanzee cognition and evolution.”The significance of this work has resulted in the establishment of centres such as Monkey World which recognise that apes should not be commercially exploited.

“During the 20 years when I worked actively with chimpanzees, our prime focus was to recognise, understand and meet the emotional and psychological needs of the chimps.”

You studied apes all those years, and never figured out they were highly territorial, prone to aggression and defended themselves against perceived rivals vigorously?

And couldn’t extrapolate that to fellow academics..?

4 comments for “”If we could talk to the animals….”

  1. Lord T
    June 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    It was the fact that animals don’t screw their own for just a quick PR boost. They do it for real reasons.

    • PT
      June 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      But we are animals too, in fact descended from apes ourselves, we believe. And the reasons have always seemed real enough to me. Maybe it’s just that some of our reasons have become more complicated, and we’ve learned to hide them better. But the primitive, real reasons still operate within us.
      We are not separate from the natural world, we’re part of it.

  2. June 17, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Has anyone asked Gerald what he thinks?

    • June 18, 2011 at 6:13 am


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