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Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Tunescribe, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #61 Jersey

    Good piece that puts the recent chimp attack in proper perspective.


    Something Wild

    By CHARLES SIEBERT
    Published: March 5, 2009

    ITS common to hear, in the wake of someones sudden lethal outburst,
    exclamations of shock along the lines of: "He seemed so pleasant and
    mild-mannered." "She never bothered anyone." But when those same
    sentiments are voiced in the aftermath of a chimpanzee attack like
    the one in Stamford, Conn., last month - in which a pet chimp named
    Travis mauled a woman, robbing her of her hands, eyesight and much of
    her face, and possibly causing brain damage - they raise serious
    questions about us, the primates with the so-called higher cognitive
    functions.

    There is something about chimpanzees - their tantalizing closeness to
    us in both appearance and genetic detail - that has always driven
    human beings to behavioral extremes, actions that reflect a deep
    discomfort with our own animality, and invariably turn out bad for
    both us and them.

    The first live chimpanzee to set foot on Europes shores arrived in
    The Hague in 1641, on board a Dutch merchant ship returning from
    Angola. The only known visual record of this unwitting pioneers
    existence is an engraving done that same year by the Dutch physician
    and anatomist Nicolaes Tulp. A leading figure of the Enlightenment
    with its emergent emphasis on objective observation and realistic
    representation, Tulp sat day after day in the private menagerie of
    Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, and proceeded to compose one of
    the more surreal depictions of a chimpanzee imaginable. The creature
    - seated atop a boulder with its mostly hairless torso and limbs,
    tapered elfin hands and feet, and sweetly smiling face - looks like a
    potbellied forest nymph dreamily sleeping off a good drunk. Not a
    chimpanzee so much as an ape-human hybrid.

    The fact that Tulp, a man of science, refused to let his hand depict
    what his eyes were seeing goes to the heart of the threat that the
    chimpanzees near-humanness has long posed to our consciousness. By
    depicting a nymphlike creature, he reinforced an age-old
    anthropocentric conception of humanlike apes as mythic beings,
    fearsome man-beasts, living cautionary tales against our own often
    beastly and rapacious tendencies.

    Tulps willful distortion may seem laughable now, something that we
    modern-day humans have advanced beyond, but we need look no further
    than Travis to dispel that conceit. His tragic end is a sadly
    familiar occurrence within todays equally distorting framework of
    trying to coerce evolution in a direction it didnt quite go for
    chimps, by making them be us: living on our turf and terms, dressing
    in our clothes, acting in our films and commercials, suffering in our
    research labs.

    While researching a book about my days living in a retirement home
    for former chimp actors (chimps work as actors only until about the
    age of 6, after which they become too strong and willful; they then
    spend the rest of their lives, often 40 to 50 more years, behind
    bars), I happened to visit Mike and Connie Casey, the breeders who
    originally sold the baby Travis to Sandra Herold and who raise and
    rent out their own chimps for commercials and childrens birthday
    parties.

    Connie Casey saw Traviss mother, Suzy, shot dead back in 2001 when
    this chimp, too, escaped and got into a tussle with a dog. In 2005,
    four former chimp actors undid the lock of a retirement home known as
    the Carson Center for Chimps (as in Johnny Carson) on the grounds of
    a roadside animal attraction called Zoo Nebraska. As patrons ran for
    cover, three chimps were killed. One, named Ripley, managed to return
    to the Carson Center and close himself back in.

    Six months before that incident, two former chimp actors who had
    grown up and trained with Ripley escaped their enclosure at a
    retirement sanctuary in Southern California and badly mauled a
    visitor much in the same way that Travis did Ms. Herolds friend.

    Chimps are, like us, given to occasional violent outbursts, but they
    have exponentially greater strength. Chimps also have, like us, minds
    enough to lose and memories that can hasten the process. Wild chimps
    "recruited" by poachers for entertainment watch as their mothers are
    gunned down - the only way a chimp mother would ever relinquish a
    child. Chimps born in captivity are spared that experience, but they
    suffer the same premature separation from their mothers, isolation
    from their normal social groups and often mistreatment from trainers
    and keepers, all traumatic events that have been shown to cause deep
    psychological scarring and, as in human beings, can lead an animal to
    overreact to the slightest stimuli: the look in someones eye, the
    color of someones hair or, as with Ms. Herolds friend that day,
    hair done up in an unaccustomed style. These are, in short, deeply
    conflicted beings, evolutionary anomalies that only we could have
    created: chimps with names and yet no recollection of trees.

    The most tragic example of this is Lucy, who lived in the late 1960s
    and early 70s. Raised from infancy to age 10 as a human child by the
    psychologist Maurice Temerlin and his wife, Jane, Lucy made her own
    meals, mixed her own ****tails, flipped through magazines, slept on
    soft mattresses, raised a pet cat, learned sign language - and had no
    contact whatsoever with other chimpanzees. By the time she reached
    sexual maturity, however, she became more and more difficult to
    handle, and the Temerlins decided they had to let Lucy go.

    They chose to send her to a place that was the complete opposite of
    what she knew, a refuge that reintroduces captive chimps into the
    wild. Lucy, it will perhaps come as little surprise, struggled
    mightily. She refused to socialize with the other chimps, to climb
    trees, forage for food, make nests. She took to waiting beneath trees
    for the others crumbs to fall.

    Eventually, Lucy adopted an orphan baby chimp and mothered him until
    he died three years later of a stomach parasite. She herself barely
    survived a bout of hookworm, then began to show enough positive signs
    of socializing with the others that they were all left for a time to
    their own devices. A year later, however, Lucys skeleton was found
    near the shores of the island refuge, without, some reports said, her
    hands or feet. The cause of her death isnt known, but speculation is
    that Lucy, always the first to greet human visitors, one day
    unwittingly approached a group of poachers, who readily seized upon
    their overeager prey.

    Lucy, Travis and all the others died for the same reason that Tulp
    couldnt draw the actual being seated before him: our ongoing
    inability to see animals outside our own fraught frame of reference.
    The chimp that Tulp, in fear of science, preserved as a mythic human,
    Temerlin tried to make a human, in sciences name. Lost in the
    shuffle of either agenda were the animals themselves, creatures we
    still cant regard and respect for what they are and just leave alone.

    Charles Siebert, a contributing writer for The Times Magazine, is the
    author of the forthcoming "The Wauchula Woods Accord: Toward a New
    Understanding of Animals."
     
  2. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This article is RACIST, it say's we look like Chimps, Oh Jesus.
     
  3. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #61 Jersey

    Actually, Harry, I was counting the seconds waiting for your insightful feedback to be registered. You are so predictable.
     

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