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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
Counting Your Hairy Cousins
19 October 2000 7:00 pm
Does your orangutan have a room of his own? That's the kind of question the Great Ape Project (GAP) aims to answer in its first census of U.S. great apes, planned for next year. If the project goes as planned, it will log the living conditions and mental health of most of the thousands of gorillas, chimps, bonobos (pygmy chimps), and orangutans in the United States.
GAP is an international lobby group which believes no ape should have to live in captivity. GAP-USA's ambitious census will require a lot of volunteers, so this summer it put out a call for people who will "find and tell the stories of each and every" ape in the United States, be it in a zoo, circus, park, lab, or on Michael Jackson's estate. The questions in GAP's census form, downloadable from its Web site, go even further than those of this year's human census in the United States, covering not only plumbing, crowding, and sanitation, but also diet, habits, privacy, and well-being.
The purpose? "Making this data available to the entire world will help give nonhuman great apes in the U.S. the individuality they deserve and will challenge those who currently believe they are entitled to own, abuse or otherwise oppress these individuals," according to the GAP Web site. Paul Waldau, executive director of GAP and a veterinarian at Tufts University in Grafton, Massachusetts, emphasizes that this census will be an "ongoing effort" to keep the living conditions of the nation's apes in the public eye, in hopes of helping society get over its "conditioned ethical blindness" to apes in captivity.
The group has about 100 volunteers lined up so far, Waldau says. Employees of zoos, where most apes reside, are happy to cooperate, he says. But volunteers will have to use their own ingenuity to ferret out "hidden chimps" who live in private hands.
Frankie Trull, president of the National Foundation for Biomedical Research (NFBR), says primates in research are already enumerated under the Animal Welfare Act--the great apes are just not broken out. And although NFBR has no objections to the census, she warns that it will be difficult to quantify apes' well-being--it's an issue scientists haven't agreed on yet.
Great Ape Project