Goodall connects with a baby chimp.
What difference has your work made? It's clearly made a difference
with the way the world views chimpanzees, and probably all
other animals. Has it made a difference in the way scientists
wrote that Fifi was jealous, and my supervisor said, 'But
you can't say that.'
That is slower to come, but now it's quite an okay subject
for study for a Ph.D., for example, to study animal minds.
There's still a hard core of people who are very resistant.
By and large, they are the people who are doing invasive experiments
on animals. There's still an awful lot of that going on, whether
it's biomedical research, pharmaceutical testing, and even
the ethologists, who are studying animal behavior, don't do
very nice things. They don't want to be forced to admit that
they are doing things to sentient, sapient beings. It's much
better to cling to the old ideas that animals are just little
machines and they have stimulus and response, and it may look
like pain, but they're animals so it's different.
Would you say that there is a language?
It's a communication. Chimps are cognitively capable of learning
human languages like American Sign Language, various artificial
languages designed for them on computers or boards of lexigrams.
They have very sophisticated brains, but they haven't during
evolution developed a sophisticated spoken language. So, unlike
us, they're not capable of discussing the distant past and
learning from it. They're not capable of planning the distant
future, and they can't, above all, discuss an idea, so that
it can grow from the accumulated wisdom of a group. So their
communication is very immediate. It's: 'this is happening
found that banging cans earned him status in the group
How do they learn things? I've read your description of the
guy who figured out how to use the tin cans for some kind
of powerful display.
Mike learned to use empty kerosene cans because he was very
low ranking. There were 11 chimps higher ranking than he,
and yet he wanted to increase his dominance rank. He accidentally
hit an empty 4-gallon kerosene can and noticed that other
chimps ran away. He gradually worked up this performance until
there'd be a group of males ranking higher than he, grooming
each other, and he'd sit there, put a hand on two cans, maybe
there's a 3rd one, then he'd start this gentle rocking, staring
at the others. And then his hair would begin to rise, which
is a sign of arousal, and then boom! Off he was, hitting and
kicking these cans.
Mike accidentally hit an empty 4-gallon kerosene can
and noticed that other chimps ran away.
4 months, he'd risen to the top, because the others just ran
out of his way. We never saw him fight. But the interesting
thing here is that every single one of those males had used
a can at least once. Only Mike capitalized on that and developed
the technique and won.
If he was so successful at that, why didn't everybody start
copying it? Why didn't it get to be fashionable to get a kerosene
can and kick it?
It certainly would have been, but we moved them. It was pretty
dangerous. We tried to keep the situation natural, try not
to intervene, so we took them all away, and he was sort of
shocked. But by then his position was pretty well assured.
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Jane Goodall Institute