Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chimps Have Had Their Chips


One of the biggest hurdles apart from Monica that Clinton had to mount at the tail end of his presidency were an excess of chimps. Since the mid eighties, scientists had been breeding chimps like crazy, thinking they'd be the solution to finding an AIDS vaccine. Ultimately, they found out that although chimpanzees could contract the AIDS virus, they rarely became sick from it. That meant it was hard to use the animals to test treatments or vaccines. This left hundreds of chimps with no place to go.

Consequently, Clinton signed the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act into being - an act which vowed to take chimps that had been medically experimented on, as well as the chimps who'd been working at NASA as 'chimponauts' and put them in special chimp retirement homes. There were also some ex-showbiz chimps in the mix - because apparently after six years old chimps are totally unmanageable and difficult to control. One of the most famous federally funded chimp retirement homes is Chimp Haven in Louisiana which was founded by Dr. Brent.

Dr. Brent said, "We'd like to see them in a place where they can use their smarts," she said. "They know how to build nests. They know how to search for termites. They know the things they need to do to live in the wild. I think we have a really unique opportunity to help the chimps become chimps again."

And what of the chimponauts? "I've never worked with chimps more screwy, more altered, more disturbed than the chimponauts," said chimp expert, Dr. Carole Noon. "Each one came in with some kind of crazy behavior."

Amazing what these experts know isn't it? Who would have thought that strapping a chimp into a vessel the size of a hotel fridge would cause it to go nuts?

I suppose you're wondering what a chimp retirement home might look like. Well, it's not bad, they have spacious outdoor yards and playground equipment for swinging and climbing.



They also have TV.

"There are some that like soap operas," said Dr. Linda Brent, a behavioral researcher and director of enrichment at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio. "I knew one named Sammy. He liked to watch Barney. Sometimes, they like shows like Jerry Springer, because it looks like the people are fighting. They like the action."

"It's a good moment for chimps, a very good moment," said Dr. Frans de Waal, a Yerkes primatologist who is on the board of Chimp Haven. "If we are not going to use them for biomedical studies, let's move them to a situation that is attractive to the chimps for retirement."

But wait, why are the chimps, once confined to small cages with electrodes drilled into their skulls being given this luxury treatment? Why weren't the excess chimps simply euthanized?

Hmm. With their striking genetic similarity to people -- chimps and humans share the same blood types, and their DNA is more than 98 percent identical -- chimps are attractive to scientists. The vaccine for hepatitis B, for instance, was developed in chimps, and they are still used to study hepatitis C and malaria, among other diseases.

Another chimp expert called Dr. Zola said that the scientists who mapped the human genome are now planning to do the same for chimpanzees, an effort that may make the apes even more valuable to science. "They may provide us with very important information," he said, "about what makes us human."

In 1997, a panel of scientific experts said reducing the chimp population by euthanizing excess apes would be unethical. Citing the genetic similarities, the experts said the government had "a moral responsibility" for chimpanzees' long-term care. Thus Clinton signed the CHIMP Act in 2000.

So let's face facts. These chimps are getting the special treatment because they are very useful to us as potential scientific subjects in the future. But it could also be because deep down we are afraid that if we don't play nice that one day the chimps may get hold of a few machine guns and create a Planet of the Apes scenario where WE are strapped into spaceships the size of fridges.





This post also inspired the marvelous cartoonist NotKeith to put pen to paper (see above). NotKeith does illustrations based on blog posts that have inspired him. To see if you can be his next inspiration go here.

28 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

I thought the most famous chimp sanctuary was the "Save the Chimp" home in Florida, of which Jane Goodall is a board member. You've got to hand it to the chimps. In her day, she was the best-looking white woman in Africa, and she spent most of her time with them.

The adult males are nothing like the PG Tips advert - they're very aggressive and like to dominate the females. Any woman who likes a bit of rough stuff should ask for an appointment.

Schmutzie said...

You are being featured on Intrepid Tuesday!
http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2009/03/intrepid-tuesday-edition-20.html

Steve said...

Is it too late to patent a McChimp burger and McChimp nuggets? I can see the advertizing campaign now: Go Ape... Get a McChimp Burger! Let's give cattle a break. We've been breeding them for food for eons. It's time to munch on a few spare primates!

xl said...

Sometimes, the chimps were tortured.

Ana said...

I'm not sure I'd like the taste of medically-tested or outer-space-radiated chimps but surely their hair (fur?) could be put to good use. Home decor? Handbags? Glove liners?

Memphis Steve said...

Remember when old TV shows thought that if a show wasn't funny you could just throw in a monkey dressed in human clothes and that would fix it? Yeah, that never worked.

fingers said...

Same reasons we're nice to women I guess...

the projectivist said...

i'm waiting for someone to start selling them up at Target. chimps dressed in the latest designer knock-offs from London fashion week.

as soon as that happens, i'm going to buy myself one and send it off to do my job whilst i stay home in bed all day eating chocolate eclairs washed down with diet Pepsi.

Cunning_Linguist said...

I like Steve's thinking but believe they are more of a crockpot dish. You know, like hamsters!

EmmaK said...

Gorilla Bananas...
Any woman who likes a bit of rough stuff should ask for an appointment.
duly noted. If I ever get divorced I will consider dating a chimp.

Schmutzie...
Thanks darling!

Steve...
Is it too late to patent a McChimp burger and McChimp nuggets?
Go patent them and sell the idea to McDonalds! They are desperate. Their stocks are down in Europe. They need a novelty nugget to attract the punters.

xl...
I just hope Bubbles is in a good chimp retirement home and Jackson didn't let him down.

Ana...
I'm pretty sure their fur would make a very attractive handbag or muffler.

Memphis Steve...
You must admit the PG tips adverts were pretty funny!

fingers...
Same reasons we're nice to women I guess...
Oh really? I thought men were nice to women because guys can't reach far enough to lick their own balls.

the projectivist...
You're right, chimps should do some sort of work like being a fashion model, it must get boring watching Jerry Springer all day and mounting each other.

Cunning_Linguist...
Sounds delicious! I will think of a nice recipe for Chimp a la mode!

scarlet-blue said...

PG Tips ads have never quite been the same for me.
PG now use Johnny Vegas... so they've downgraded considerably.
Sx

electro-kevin said...

Liberation for chimps !

Well that's the next thing on the list after the successful emancipation of women, no ?

Quite closely prioritised I might add. It wouldn't really have mattered much to us fellas which of you had benefited first.

EmmaK said...

scarlet-blue...that glove puppet they use now is an outrage. I'm writing to bring back the PG Tips Chimps! So what if they made them 'talk' by making them chew gum.

electro-kevin.....the liberation of women ... ha ha .... first the suffragettes were liberated from their corsets. But I quite like corsets so I am strapping myself back in.

electro-kevin said...

Make sure you've got the sussies on too, my girl !

moi said...

Surely, there must be something we can do to tap into all this Chimp Brain Power? Positions in the current administration, perhaps? Just sayin' . . .

EmmaK said...

electro-kevin...No fear, I've got more stockings than you've had hot dinners. Might need someone to keep my seams straight though. xx

moi....Chimps in government. I like it. It would take years before anyone noticed they were chimps though. It took us eight years to notice there was a chimp in the presidency the last time!

hang on, I take it back, that's an insult to chimps!

Donn Coppens said...

The worst thing that ever happened to Chimps was when We discovered that they share 98.6 of our DNA.

We share so much of their behaviour..they live in chaotic, often violent, male dominated societies in which most of their energy is spent grooming and massaging alliances. The males routinely form posses to kill monkeys and male Chimps from other troops.

In their homeland they are routinely slaughtered for Bush Meat. The recent fate of a Chimp kept as a "pet" in the US is even more disturbing. He was gunned down during a psychotic episode fueled by medication...if only his owner had met the same fate for being such an asshole!

I saw a program on a rescue facility...an old Chimp who had only known cement floors and bars walked on grass for the first time in decades..and then he climbed a tree. It absolutely broke my heart.

If only we were more like their cousins the Bonobos. These female led eqalitarians live in a society that is run on SEX instead of fear..Yeah Baby! Bonerhos show us an alternative lifestyle that makes us blush but also puts us to shame.

I would rather use career criminals for scientificky experiments..atleast we could justify wasting $60,000 a year to provide medical care, shelter, food, entertainment, recreation, and education. Chimps have an excuse for acting like animals.

I'm also worried that some will end up in the soylent green Mcfood chain as Fish & Chimps. Nothing would surprise me anymore.

EmmaK said...

Donn Coppens...
the Bonobos are a funny bunch aren't they? they have sex instead of shaking hands. I'm all for free love but I wouldn't want some random stranger in the subway mounting me (well it depends if he was hot lol)

I wrote this piece because I feel so sorry for Chimps used in experiments. And they are intelligent enough to remember how they have been mistreated and frankly I hope they do get their own back on us one day!

The Krankies said...

"I'm all for free love but I wouldn't want some random stranger in the subway mounting me (well it depends if he was hot lol)"

We use the subway, and we're very hot.

electro-kevin said...

"Might need someone to keep my seams straight though. xx"


Oooh yeah ! Me, Miss ! Me me me !!!

Not said...

Hello! I've used your post as inspiration for a pic. It's here:
http://notkeith.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/pic-a-day-day-five/

Hope you like it.

x
notKeith

Some Chilean Woman said...

I am adding the word 'chimponaut' to my daily vocabulary.

EmmaK said...

the Krankies....
We use the subway, and we're very hot.

Thanks for getting in touch - I had no idea you two were still performing. What kind of venues do you play these days? Is it just old folks homes or what?

electro-kevin...
Oooh yeah ! Me, Miss ! Me me me !!!

All right Kevin, you may stay after class and help Miss straigthen up the classroom.

Not...
thanks so much. I love it. You are a brilliant illustrator.

Some Chilean Woman...
I know, isn't it a brilliant word!

The Krankies said...

"What kind of venues do you play these days?"

Subways, and I'll leave the wife at home.

garfer said...

I have traced my ancestry to Cedric II of the Congo. An aristocratic Bonobo chimp with scant regard for the Common chimp he spent his time shagging and swigging banana liqueur, not scrapping.

This explains my penchant for peach schnapps and having sex with the legs of grand pianos, I think.

EmmaK said...

the Krankies....get your coat, you've pulled. I'll meet you on the Circle line tonight. I'll be the one with the big pink shoulder pads.

garfer...it certainly explains a lot!
xx

The Krankies said...

I was thinking more on the lines of Cockfosters on the Picadilly in a thong.

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