Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Love Every Single Chimp I See, From Chimpan-A to Chimpan-Z

I don't watch a lot of TV, since every night it seems to be the same parade of homeimprovementvetsinanimalhospital, babiesbornwithtoastersforeyes, but I've been trying to watch tonight's Horizon - Chimps Are People Too*.

Animal psychology is fascinating, and I've followed the progress of these bonobo chimpanzees - Kanzi and Panbanisha - for years, a task made thankfully easier by the internet.

Bonobo chimps are smaller, less aggressive and more intelligent than the more commonly known pan troglodytes chimpanzee. Their sexual habits would raise the eyebrow of the average moralist, to put it mildly.

The programme itself centres on the question of whether to grant personhood to apes - should we recognise that the intelligence, social structure and individuality of great apes merit legal recognition?

After all, the bonobo chimps featured can communicate using lexigrams with vocabularies of hundreds of words and learn to use human tools and technology very quickly.

It's a complex question, with many moral implications. After much consideration I've decided that great apes should not be admitted to the human club, for one very good reason.

Any animal that can learn to cook and communicate simple phrases could surely be trained in domestic service, which would be a Godsend on those evenings where you can't be bothered to phone out for takeaway. I've just watched a bonobo cook its own noodles, and if it can do that for itself, what would it do for a banana?

Orangutans also make excellent bodyguards, as clearly demonstrated in the Clint Eastwood documentary Every Which Way But Loose, although they have been known to eat half their bodyweight in Oreo cookies in a single sitting, which could prove expensive.

Given that I've ironed holes through the arse cheeks of two pairs of trousers in a week, I don't doubt that a gorilla in a pinny could do a better job.

If children can't be harnessed into baby bouncers and hamster wheels to provide for our energy needs, why deprive ourselves of this labour saving opportunity?

It's madness, I tell you.

*Of course, when I say "I've been trying to watch Horizon" I mean I've been catching two minute snatches of it during the ad breaks in "Britain's Youngest Mums and Dads", which has entranced Mrs. Rodent with its poetry and pathos.

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