seeing where this mini can is hidden in the model room…
Boysen's career has been a successful one, it has not always
been easy or satisfying for her. Much of her research demonstrates
that chimps and other primates possess capabilities we like
to reserve for ourselves. Just as Jane Goodall's discovery
that wild chimps fashion and use tools ruffled some academic
feathers, Boysen's work teaching primates to count and subtract
engenders discomfort even among her colleagues.
"There is even in science," says Boysen, "such reticence to
have us be part of the Darwinian continuum."
"In the last 27 years, I've learned stuff nobody else
detractors charge that her close, hands-on relationship with
her research animals colors her experiments, radically altering
the chimps' natural behavior. But that, according to Boysen,
is part of the point.
"There's no question that chimps in the company of humans
experience changes in the brain," she says. "But that the
species has the neuroplasticity to take in that information-
that's not inconsequential. There aren't many other species
Plus, says Boysen, her almost parental relationship with some
of her study subjects sheds light on some natural behaviors
field researchers would have a very hard time documenting.
For example, Boysen is currently raising two baby chimps,
Emma and Harper, each rejected by their mothers as infants.
understands where to find the cola in the real room.
five-month-old Emma climbed out of her cradle in the middle
of the night, and crept over to Boysen's bed where she lay
sleeping. Emma head-butted Boysen into consciousness, and
Boysen could see Emma's playface illuminated by the light
from the hall. The infant chimp continued to play with her
sleepy surrogate mother for some time.
occurred to me," marvels Boysen, "baby chimps must do this
in the wild. It's a real bonding thing - wonderful pleasant
quality time. In the last 27 years, I've learned stuff nobody
else could know."
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