DER Documentary

Chimpanzees Today

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From the Primates series
by Anne Zeller
color, 36 min, 2001

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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Chimpanzees Today is an overview of the various roles filled by chimpanzees and the situations in which they currently live. It begins by briefly discussing the precipitous drop in wild populations as well as some of the history of Jane Goodall's research at Gombe, focusing on the discoveries that promoted the use of the chimpanzee model in studying human evolution. It then covers many situations chimpanzee captivity, including the sanctuaries in Africa set up for infant chimpanzees rescued from poachers and some of the zoo habitats in which they are held. It also covers chimps raised as show animals, as pets, as participants in medical research, and as participants in behavioral research such as self-recognition, language-use and in the study of chimpanzee painting. Questioning when and if chimpanzee captivity is necessary, the video discusses the new captive sanctuaries for animals unable to return to the wild: chimpanzees and other primates that have outgrown their usefulness as pets or show animals, and those that have been retired from medical research.

Returning to the theme of the use of the chimpanzee model in hominid evolution, the video includes a short segment on captive Bonobos. These are the other species of chimpanzee; a very rare form that may in fact be more similar in behavior to early hominids than are common chimpanzees. It ends with a plea for conservation of wild chimpanzees since without them all the contributions which the captive ones make will no longer be sustainable.

Of particular value in the video are the sections on actual footage from a medical research laboratory, mirror self-recognition, and the level of language facility gained by chimpanzees who are not the focus of special language training programs. Anyone watching this video is undoubtedly aware of the social and intellectual kinship between humans and chimpanzees. The question then becomes, 'What are our responsibilities towards them?'

Other films in the series:
Five Species
Images From The Field: Baboons
Introduction to the Primates
Lemurs of Madagascar
New World Monkeys
Primate / Human Interaction
Primate Patterns II
Sifakas of Madagascar
What Do Primatologists Do?

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