Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History

NATURE introduces you to the unsung heroes in our history in Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History.

The history of chimps in our society is a history unlike any other. We have sent them into space, dressed them in costumes and demanded that they entertain us. Some have been adopted into human families until they “outgrew” their cuteness, many have been used to test our drugs or to help develop our vaccines, others have been infected with our most frightening diseases. While we are mesmerized by their likeness to our species and we have continually found uses for chimps, we never considered what they wanted or needed.

But their side of the story is starting to emerge. And it can be heard at the sanctuaries where many retired chimps now reside. It can be read in their medical records, seen in their mutilated bodies, or sensed through their psychological afflictions. We’ve had a conflicted relationships with chimps in our society but there are some people who want to simplify it. Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History will introduce you to the rescuers at sanctuaries like Fauna Foundation, Save the Chimps, Center for Great Apes. And they are determined to see that the traumatized residents they have saved from a life of confinement and suffering can finally be allowed to feel like chimps.

Update (January 2008): Under a new bill, called the Chimp Haven is Home Act, retired chimpanzees living at Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana would not be able to be removed for medical research. President Bush must sign the bill for it to become law. The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, deletes a provision in standing law that would allow such removal. The CHIMP Act of 2000 established the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary System for chimpanzees retired from use in research. Chimp Haven operates this sanctuary system through a public-private partnership. “The chimpanzees at Chimp Haven have spent their lives in research laboratories helping to improve the lives of all Americans,” McCrery said. “Many of our discoveries in space and medicine are due to chimpanzees. I am proud to help modify the existing law to ensure chimpanzees at Chimp Haven will spend their final years happily.

To order a copy of Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History, please visit the NATURE Shop.

Online content for Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History was originally posted November 2006.

  • Susan Lin

    I am so sad. I have decided to donate (albiet $25). If everyone gave $5-10, then we can make up for treating animals so poorly.

  • Lori Gould

    I wept uncontrolably, I am discraced by my race!

  • Heidi Brown

    Please advise me where I can send a donation for these poor animals. I have done nothing but cry about this unfortunate, but informative story. Thank god there are people in this world that care about these babies…

  • frank guarino

    I am confused by the controversy. Human life takes preference over the life of a chimpanzee.If chimpanzees are required for medical research, then so be it. I suffer from an illness that at one time was 100% fatal. But due to research done on chimpanzees, I will live a normal life span which at one time was not possible. God put animals on the earth to serve man. The money spent on these chimps once research is no longer needed is money that could be better spent on children starving in the world. What is more important? The life of a child or the life of a chimpanzee? Once the animal is no longer needed for research they should be humanely euthenized. Then, there will be more money for starving children than keeping these animals alive who have a reputation of being brutal at times…

  • Candice Larsen

    This is the 2nd time I’ve watched, and I cried again. When will the learn that we will be judged by how we treat the lest of us. These heartbreaking furry loves to our own elderly and mentally ill. I hope I live long enough to see the end of it, for all for always.

  • Sandman

    Instead of humanely euthanizing these close proximity of mankind…. I would like to see more Islands house these terrific animals.
    As for these starving children
    I would like to see some monies go to the adults of these 3rd world countries to educate on the use of birth control so this insane cycle of bringing children into these poor countries would cease.

  • Carly Fulmes

    I am so inspired by the work that all those amazing people did for those poor poor animals. I wish I was old enough to volunteer for a cause like that. But I can promise I will do everything within my power to help these chimps like the Save The Chimps foundation is doing. I am utterly ashamed of what our race has done to them.

  • Lily Georgick

    These chimpanzees are real heroes who sacrificed their good health and freedom to help the human race. It’s great to know there are compassionate human beings caring and concerned about them. Before this program I never realized their plight I would like to make a little contribution if you’d inform me where to send my contribution.

  • Dina Ence

    Thank you to the people that are trying to help these poor animals. I am also discraced by my race, the humane race is like some sort of parisite, distroying everything in its path. The only species that the planet would benefit from if it were to distroy itself. Oh, I think we are already doing that. I would like to help the Chimpanzees please inform me where I can get more information.

  • Barbara Massey

    I am watching the episode tonight – and agree, it tugs at ones emotions. I noticed in previous comments, an interest of where to donate to help the retired chimps. If you google ‘chimp haven’ you should find what you’re looking for. I have absolutely no affiliation with the not-for-profit organization. I just read through the information posted on the PBS site about the series and googled chimp have which directed me to the correct site. I too would like to contribute towards helping these animals live out their remaining time on earth with the dignity and compassionate care they well deserve.

  • Yvette

    It makes me physically ill and incredibly sad to see these once wild and free chimpanzees reduced to used up lab experiments. Many displayed tattoed numbers on their mutilated bodies, akin to the victims of the Holocaust.

    This show was hard to watch, but very informative. I considered changing the channel, but the personal stories hooked me in. The ending was especially cathartic because it showed Billy Jo, Toddy, Ron, and Thoto finally getting the chance to experience grass, trees, and sky. Thank you to all those good people, as shown in the documentary, who really care about these chimpanzees, and choose to make their existence a little better every day.

  • Elizabeth

    Watching this made me want to puke! How we as a “civilized” race, think we can do whatever we want to other living things just shows our ignorance. To the people who now care for these chimps–thank you. This is just one other subject on how we “humans” are ruining this home of ours. No care or concern for anyone but ourselves. If we hear that we are on the extinction “list”, will it matter then?!

  • Patty B…

    Arrogance. If one word describes the American attitude toward those who cannot help, nor have a voice to speak, themselves…arrogance is the word. Yes, no doubt there will always be those of us who seek out this kind of abuse and strive to correct it…we will always be met with the apathy that is made apparent through these documentaries. I remain thankful for PBS –and the Animal Planet– for placing this type of program in the public eye so that more and more people may be made aware of all we need to achieve, working together, in the name of humanity. For those who seek more info on the Chimp Haven Is Home Act, please use this link: Please make certain the entire link is copied into your browser…

  • Dee Dee S

    I found this show to be very informative. It’s a sad situation with the chimps who’ve been used for research. I know we need to do all we can to help HUMANS, but in my view, animals are God’s creatures too, and we need to do what we can to help them. Especially in the case of the chimps infected with HIV for research. Perhaps humane euthanization is the best option, but I love and respect those who are supporting sanctuaries and caring for these animals with love and grace.

  • Amanda

    At first I just caught the end of it then I got to see the begining and end of it these inteligent carring loving animals Have feelings and great intelegence and they have done so much for us they are heroes they may not be on the front lines fighting a war but they are fighting for us so that we can have more inproved lives providing care love enrichment and a somewhat natural habitat on an island is the least we can do for them and TO FRANK WHO SAYS THAT RESEARCH ON CHIMPS MADE HIS LIFE POSSIBLE SO THAT HE CAN LIVE A NORMAL LIFE I THINK YOU OWE THEM SOME GRATTITUDE THEY DONT HAVE A CHOICE OR A SAY SO OVER WHATS HAPPENING TO THEM AND THEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO ADMIT TO HAVING THERE LIFE POSSIBLE FROM REASERCH ON CHIMPS SAYING THERE LIVES DONT MATTER WELL WHAT IF YOUR LIFE DIDNT MATTER AND NO ONE CARED ABOUT YOU WHAT IF THESE CHIMPS DIDNT MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO LIVE SHOW THEM SOME GRATTITUDE!!!!!!! sorry for rambling but it was very heart breaking story and I am very glad that not everyone is ignorent and shows no respct for these chimps think about it what if we showed are men in women in arms this kind of treatment after what they have done for us it is the same

  • Francis L

    Well, I am certain (as one commentator mentioned) that God did not put animals on this earth to serve man. Animals are here to allow us to choose who we are in relation to them. Are we a species that sees all flora and fauna and the environment as something we exploit for our benefit without any consideration for the suffering we cause.

    Or are we a conscious species that honors the right of all living things to live freely? Are we a species that recognizes we are all one and connected at the source and that what we do to another we do to ourselves and our future generations. Do we recognize that at one point in history, we perceived black slaves as nothing but animals to serve their masters. Nobody, no one, and nothing is here on the planet to serve us. We must honor everything on this planet as precious – as if we are the planet (which we are).

    This documentary broke my heart and made me weep too and I immediately made a donation. If viewers want to help. This website has a link on the right column labeled “additional web and print resources”. There you will find organizations that are helping these beautiful beings. There are many organizations listed but the three organizations mentioned in the documentary are:

    Save the Chimps
    Group that cares for abandoned and orphaned chimpanzees.

    The Fauna Foundation
    Non-profit sanctuary for wild, domestic, and farm animals, and biomedical research chimpanzees. Environmental projects, wetlands restoration.

    Center for Great Apes
    A sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees in need of long-term life care.

  • Joyanna

    Thank you PBS for making this story known. I applaud the compassionate people who have giving their money and time to help these animals live the rest of their lives in a loving and SAFE environment. We need more people like you in the world.

  • Cathy

    I cried as well. At the same time…many of us would not be around if it weren’t for the chimps and other animals in research. I hate that it has to be done. However, they should be treated HUMANELY. You cannot just leave them in concrete quarters their whole lives…even during their time in medical research. Why can’t they live freely and then brought in for tests??? Did anyone ever see the video of the young boy falling into the ape/gorilla enclosure at the zoo. The ape/gorilla carefully picked up the young boy and left him by the door where the handlers come in and out of. Are you going to tell me a creature like that is non-feeling and deserve to be put to sleep after doing so much to help the human race frank guarino??? They don’t deserve a life of peace afterwards??? And to Sandman: Nicely put:)

  • Jen

    To Frank Guarino:
    Humans have done more to harm this planet and other species than any non-human animal ever has or ever will. As the most highly evolved creature on earth, the human animal has a duty to care for and look after all living creatures. We have a responsibility to protect, not a right to destroy.

  • Sara

    I cried my eyes out – this show is so touching. Thank goodness for the profiled caretakers. I have been compelled to donate to to make a lasting difference. Thank you for helping these chimps have a better life!

  • Kathleen H.

    I just bought two copies. One to keep and one to pass around to my family and friends. I think people need to know the inhumanity that God’s nonhuman creatures endure. Makes one wonder if we really are the “civilized” society we claim to be. Our Government??? Why do we point fingers at other countries’ ignorance, when we do horrible things behind closed doors to God’s creatures that can not speak up for themselves. I am also condeming the abuse of animals in the private sector as well!!! Why do we as the American public tolerate such things. Thank you PBS for enlightening so many to the awful plight of these intelligent, gentle beings.

  • Laura Chorba

    Wow reading the post of Mr. Guarino above here reminds me who can be the most brutal on the planet… Humans. Why on earth any person thinks our set of DNA is somehow more important than any other livign creatures is beyond me especially one that is so much like us. You should rent the Koko video and see them do sign language about rememeber how their parents were murdered and begging us not to kill them like this anymore. Think they are just mere animals? If animal nature is measured in brutality and harm that we do here on this planet than it is us not them that are indeed tha animals of this wild kingdom. I am ashamed to see someone who watches PBS write such closed minded and cold writing such as this. When all the animals are gone what will we do then? They are not here for our research and perhaphs disease is more our mind body connection and perhaps there are other ways to cure them than bringing on misery to animals.
    So much of the testing done at Universites and labs across the nation is wasted because it is done multiple timesby schools and companies competing against each other..these animals are slaughtred many times for no good reason or for results that have been had over many many times. The science community needs to get better organized if it does continue in the vein.
    I once lived with a pet monkey whose owner was cruel to him and cared for him. He was a Japanese Snow monkey. I had no idea how intelligent an animal was till I spent my months with him. It was startling to say the least how much he started to understand and how quickly. We have no idea what they know.

  • Mark Danga

    Tell an AIDs patient that a stupid animal is more important than they are.

    And to all those people who whine on about their “race” please do the planet and get off. If humans are so bad then make a difference by leaving the earth yourselves. But none of you will do that because you are lazy and a bunch of hypocrites.

    And what a shock that it’s all women crying. Please stop living up to the stereotype of being oversensitive.

  • Mark Danga

    And I forgot. Humans > stupid chimps. No Mr. Redneck on this program, the chimps are not smarter than us. Are the chimps running PBS? Wait maybe they are since it requires American government funding.

    The chimps didn’t invent the internet or television. I am typing about a stupid chimp. The stupid chimp is not typing about me. Right now he is scratching his hairy butt. So the heck with them. If we can cure cancer and AIDs then bleep the animals.

  • Maria

    What a beautiful film…I am crying.

  • chantel leblanc

    how sad even more sad is the people have no grattitude for what the chimps have suffered for us its not beening oversensitive it’s having a heart

  • Gavin Aniston

    This movie was trash. And to the people crying, grow up.

  • deborah allen

    I watched and just cried, was so intrigued I want to send some money to help this animal that is almost extinct and i am sorry but GOD did not put animals on this earth to serve man!! Animals are breathing living things which our beautiful god created! God is love he is not about putting a chimp in expirments for 30 years, all these chimps injected with the aids virus and after years is there a cure? No there is not! All the slaughtering we do on animals, is a disgrace and your grand children and great grandchildren will never know what a chimp is or a polar bear or all of these extinct animals, the people watching this whom were left crying are the caring compassionate ones, and to those who feel the opposite do you remember when humans performed experiments on humans, is that okay with you too? Yes some of these chimps are much smarter than the humans that write these comments.

  • chrissy

    wow, i just finished watching the program and came on here to see how i could help. But got destracted by some of the dumb comments. To Mark; Yes I AM FEMALE and NO I did not cry. You are a fool and need to read a book. I think if you have nothing smart to say, then shut up. For someone who has no interest in helping animals you sure spent a lot of time on a web site dedicated on doing so. You call people hypocrites but your bias and sexist.
    I do not agree with animal testing. There is no need for it. Based on over population the human race is doing fine.

  • Susan

    Thank you PBS for airing such a powerful documentary that the general public, not involved with animal, humane, enviornmental groups, can see how humans have abused these magnificent creatures for our so called gain. To those that say animals were put here for our use, medically or for entertainment, I am horrified by your comments! All animals were put here on this planet for a specific purpose, to be themselves, whatever that might be, and to live their lives in the enviornment they were meant to live in without our interference. This is the order of the planet and the “Circle of Life”. We all know what happens when something is disturbed in the “Circle”, plant or animal, it has a wave-like disasterous effect on everything else in the “Circle”. How is it in todays time there are still people out there that are so ignorant that they don’t see that? I have been most fortunate to have been on 2 African safaris (and hope to return soon) and have been honored to be in the presence of these and other magnificent creatures in their home. Having these experiences I can tell you that I have seen the “Circle of Life” unfold in front of my eyes as Nature intended. No one was dressed up doing tricks for our “entertainment”. They were being who they are supposed to be where they are supposed to be. Thank goodness for those of us out there that are jumping up and down and screaming at the top of our lungs for protections and rights of all animals and their enviornments. We have to remember we are humans and should treat animals humanely. If we are supposedly the more intelligent ones why are there those still out there with the ignorant attitudes of some of the people commenting here? Let’s hope one day soon that we in the humane community get so loud that we drown out those that are ruining our planet with their disposable mentality that everything here is for their explicit use and abuse. Oh, and another thing I learned while on safari…..animals do not kill out of malice, they kill to eat and survive. We can’t say that for the human race. Now tell me who is the kinder creature?

    —-To PBS—-As always, I would like to see you mention at the end of any such documentary how people can help. You have the opportunity to help the organizations that are featured in films such as this one while people are still moved and have the desire to help. Please consider mentioning where people can go to help at the end of these films while the emotions are still raw.

    And yes, I was so moved that I cried. Not just at the abuses we have inflicted on these wonderful, intelligent creatures, but at the end when a few got their so called freedom and walked on grass and climed trees for the first time in their lives. If you were not moved by this film you don’t have a heart.

  • Susan

    Thank you PBS for airing such an important documentary! It’s so important to get the word out to those not aware of our precious animals suffering because of uncaring people. Animals were not placed on this planet to be used at our disposal for medical or entertainment purposes. They were placed here to be themselves and live out their lives in their own enviornments. It is especially maddening that someone who has been directly helped by medical research on such magnificient, intelligent, creatures, not care what happen to them. This person should be donating his entire life savings for their care and release into sanctuaries. These chimps gave up their natural lives for him and suffered immense pain. How dare he disregard them and their suffering! It’s because of people like him and those researchers that these chimps have suffered in the hands of that I am embarassed to be a member of, the human race. To be human should mean to be humane. We are supposed to be the intelligent ones. When I hear what is done to our animals and the enviornment I have my doubts about our so called intelligence. I have been most fortunate to have gone on 2 African safaris. What an honor to be in the presence of these and the other amazing animals that grace our planet in their own enviornment. In front of me the “Circle of Life” was unveiled. We are all a part of this “Circle” and the animals and their enviornments were carefully placed on this planet for the “Circle” to continue. When humans mess with the “Circle” it has disasterous effects. And by the way….animals don’t kill out of malice, they kill to eat and survive. You can’t say that for the human race. I am hopeful as more people become aware of mans inhumanity to animals and the environment that our voices will be loud enough to drown out those who are so close minded. Then may we have peace on this planet. When all animals, including us, can live in harmony as the universe intended. As always I would like to see PBS have info at the end of these films how people can help while people are emotionally moved to do so. It would be of great benefit to all to have that immediately posted.
    I did know about the abuse of chimps. Seeing this film was much more moving than everthing I have read. The least we can do for those that gave their health and lives for us is to make them as comfortable as possible. Yes I cried….I cried for the pain and suffering inflicted on these innocent creatures as well as those that have been blessed to now have grass under their feet and trees to climb. Let’s all help the others get there as well.

  • Ken R.

    It makes me so sad and angry that there are still people in this country that really do believe as Mr. GAVIN ANISTON above does. Documentaries are written about ignorant and angry people like him.
    AND- Mr. DANGA, If your I.Q. is lower than someone else’s, if you do something someone else considers STUPID, does that mean the smarter person should be able to use YOU for research and lock you in a cage for life???
    Who are you to judge?
    We could go on and on here, around in circles. What good does it do? Anything good? Rather than griping and spewing, which always easy and accomplishes little, how about doing something positive? So you don’t support animals.. Go support something you do believe in rather than wasting your time and energy typing angry emails. Donate or volunteer at a church, for hungry children, something you think deserves support.

    Supporting something you believe in will have infinitely more positive impact than griping.

    P.S. How can I donate to Chimp Sanctuaries??????


  • NATURE Online

    If you’re interested in supporting chimpanzee sanctuaries and related organizations, please check our Additional Resources page:

  • chantel l

    it’s so good to know that there is still kind people in the world

  • MN

    So one person comments that animals are put here to serve man and that we should concentrate on starving children??!! Are you kidding me?! The obesity rate among children and adults has climbed through the roof-I see fat people everywhere I go and none of them look like they are hurting for their next meal. Then the comment reads that these animals are brutal?! Hello-have you checked the news lately and seen the brutal crimes that humans commit against one another?? It is the human race that is destroying this world-not the animals. To those posters that have no souls please do not use this site to post your hatred for animals.

  • Gabrielle

    Wow. First of all, this documentary was beautifully done. Bittersweet, being both tragic and hopeful. I think everyone needs to volunteer their time to animal causes. It is eye opening and heart wrenching. Whether it’s dogs, chimps, or even kids, it changes you.

    And to those are just don’t get it…those who think animals are lesser creatures with the sole purpose to serve man (ha! that’s a good one!), that only women cry (yeah, another hysterical one!), that humans mean more to this planet than anything else…well, you obviously lack what many of these creatures have an abundance of. Compassion. Heart. Dignity. Love. Your lack of these essential elements bring the human race down tremendouly. Please…shed a tear every now and then. It will do you good.

  • Bakunin

    It’s clear that there are enough alternatives to animal research to satisfy the demands of most cosmetic, drug and medical research firms. Unfortunately, old ways die hard. Perhaps in a century or so, an enlightened population might look back in horror at all the abuses heaped on both man and “beast.”
    However, in the short term, why not ask all those retired medical researchers if they’d offer to substitute themselves for their animal counterparts in the areas where corporate forces that be still find it necessary for a living subject? Perhaps they can make the most of their waning years in a truly socially significant manner.

  • Edith Rodriguez


  • Jackie

    I couldn’t stop crying during this. I’m an animal rights activist and I’ve always adored chimpanzees. This really broke my heart. Those beautiful creatures are incredible and yet people feel like they could mistreat them.

  • Dave

    “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
    Mohandas Gandhi

    “The good man is the friend of all living things.”
    Mohandas Gandhi

    Both human and animal causes need our compassion and support.

  • Mike Lomanto

    Sorry, another reply for frank g.:
    Real quick, someone, somewhere, has the same mentality that humans are more important, but I guarantee that argument has been used to say, “Why are we spending money to extend the life of a terminally ill person when we can put this money to serve those of us that will benefit for a longer period of time?”.
    The problem with the ‘better than’ mentality is that at some point someone is using it on you. Your life has been spared through the sacrifice of others, and you have learned nothing? Yes, I say others as if they are human. I will just copy/paste one of my other posts on this topic, ‘alternatives to testing’…
    Chimpanzees have demonstrated they are like us in almost every way, including their ability to communicate with us in our language (sign language to be exact.) They only lack the ability to vocalize. We have discovered the reason they cannot. If you want to follow the reasoning that they are beneath this because of this, then where do you place mute humans, or deaf, or blind, or mentally disabled so that they cannot speak. Should we use them for experiments?

  • ryan

    Pbs should post this show so we can watch it so that we dont have to pay someone five bucks for a pirated dvd NOONE will pay this much for a dvd for a free tv channel you are stealing free education from poor children by not posting this “full episode “on your website, yet you post a full show on religious filth and should be ashamed of yourselves

  • Jaime Woodard

    It’s funny how everyone refers to chimps as animals but seem to forget that humans too are scientifically classified as animals. (In the same category of primates, mammals, etc.)So my contribution to this blog is this: If testing on animals is needed to cure diseases that kill humans, why not just do it on humans? These diseases are going to kill them anyway if they are left untreated, so why bother testing on anything but human DNA. Why infect a healthy primate when there are some already out there who are infected? Our lives are not more important than others. We are all in essence relative to each other; animals, plants, environment. We are all connected in the endless circle of life and no one can survive without the other. To some, this seems easy to forget.

  • W.Perry

    If you are against using chimpanzees in research you must contact your state representaives, senators, governor, etc. Tell them you are are against using chimpanzees in research, and want them to vote against it. Pay attention to who you vote for, not everyone cares about the Chimpanzees.
    It is also important to pass information on to your childrens and grandchildren’s teachers.
    One of my granddaughters teachers is going to do a presentation to her class (3rd graders) just because of some brochures I sent her from Project R&R. Of course we are very happy about this. You would be surprised at the amount of people that know nothing about this.

  • Booker

    To Mike and Jaime, Kudos! Frank, if humans weren’t so arrogant, I could side with you.



  • Daniel Dunford

    With so many people caring about all these chimps, I bet there are starving children in Africa wishing they were chimps, really, is money better spent on these than out own people…

  • Ron

    Frank Guarino says: “God put animals on the earth to serve man.” I don’t believe that for a minute. What a sick and twisted misuse of religion to justify inhumanity.

  • ryan

    you can symbolically adopt a bonobo from lola ya bonobo …world animal foundation …WWF plus all the ones in this show , personally i think nature needs to post the full episode online like nova does

  • NATURE Online

    Ryan – You can watch more than 30 full episodes of NATURE online, with more added each week. Check out:

  • Rudy Bagnera

    I wish this show was free, so that I could see what animal rights protesters are talking about. I agree with Frank, that animal research helped save his life, those of many others, and like to include that it extends to saving animal lives as well. It’s a shame some of the the pro-research responses seem uncivil, compared to the response saying how nice the program was. I think it is a good idea to retire used animals and allow them to live their lives out after their sacrifices. Most researchers care for their animals very well, and without such research we would not have the state of the art medicines we have now. 99% of research is performed on rats & mice, very little is done with non-human primates. And for those who are wondering, there are human testing for medication, it is a stage called clinical trials and happens for every new drug before release to the public. We need to remember compassion extends both ways, to humans and non-human animals, researching cures for both is another way to show compassion to them.

    We are not the only animals that commit atrocious acts, several ape species will kill other apes for territory and not food reasons, killer whales play with their seal snacks before eating, and while a gorilla might save a child fallen in their pen, a boar wouldn’t stop from killing and or eating it. If someone wants to bring God in or religion, there are always Bible passages that can counter each other, there was a Proverbs one saying that a good man is one who takes care of the animals, yet in Genesis we are given dominion over them. Either way, people SHOULD be grateful they have nice medicine that cures diseases and be thankful for the scientists and animals who do the research to improve everyone’s lives.

  • RYRY


  • Mike

    Both interesting and depressing.

  • gregory rotello

    Either you believe that these beings are imbued with the essence that we sometimes call humanness, or you don’t. Those of us who recognize the ‘humanity’ in animals frequently ask this question. “What part of “you shouldn’t torture and kill something that’s clearly human” don’t you understand?” There are human children with far less intelligence, empathy, curiosity, creativity and grace than many many animals have, not that that should be a criteria for granting animals their own sets of rights. It’s so self serving and convenient to use these beings for whatever private and commercial ventures we choose to subject them to and to justify using them on the grounds of the progress and the gains that their pain, sufferings and sacrifices provided to us. some countries use the same arguments to justify their using of prisoners. if there were alternatives to using animals in the negative ways that we do that would not include actual animals would you personally use those alternatives instead of using animals? if your answer is yes? than why? just like us animals Are Not machines. simply because we don’t know what it’s like to be an animal does not justify torturing them in the many and various institutional, cultural and commercial ways that we do. finally this. if you’re a researcher and you mess with animals and give them pain or discomfort they don’t know you’re doing that for the good of mankind, or that they are involved in a research project or that they are being used more probably for increasing the bottom line of a company. all they know is that their being messed with and tortured by a very large and very formidable monster.

  • Vegetarian

    Just something to think about….to all those who are against using animals in medical research: do you eat meat? Because the animals raised for meat in this country are treated horribly. Chickens and pigs, in most cases, are probably treated much worse than research animals. Sure, they aren’t as intelligent as chimps – although pigs are very, very intelligent – but many people seem to be saying that it isn’t right to put one species over another. If that’s the case, why be so against research animals when the bacon that so many people love to eat for breakfast comes from a pig that, in all probability, never left a pen barely big enough to fit in its entire life?

    Personally, I do not object to using animals in research that will hopefully lead to cures to deadly diseases. Many people say that it isn’t worth a chimp’s life, but do you really think that a cure for cancer, which kills so many people, is not worth the life of a much smaller number of chimps? That said, I think that non-medical (i.e. cosmetic) research on animals is unethical, and that research animals should be treated with great care and be made as comfortable as possible and, if they are retired, be given a good place to live. I am also a vegetarian because I don’t feel that I can support the atrocities that take place in the meat industry on such wide scale. I just don’t think that you can truly say that you are against the torture and killing of animals if you eat meat.

  • Vanetta

    This was very hard to watch, but it was even more maddening that the narrator kept saying that “these animals sacrificed everything…”

    These animals did not make sacrifices, humans TOOK everything from them.

  • Deanne

    Incredible and devastatingly sad.

  • Susan

    I cried throughout this whole program as it continues to be astounding to me how we allow any tax dollars to be spent on animal research to hurt these sweet, innocent, loving creatures. I love animals and felt terrible for these chimps and any animals living in confinement and not free. So upsetting.

  • B.C. A.

    Thank you PBS for broadcasting such a strong feature, promoting knowledge and hopefully promoting the desire for us to be just in our deliberations for the causes of all of nature’s creatures. What a misconception to think that humans are at the top of the pyramid and everything else is put here on earth by God to use for our benefit. Hopefully, there are still some thinking human beings who can learn from the past—-

  • Aimee

    I cried and cried. Not because of the cliche female response. As man, are we not the keepers? Did you not see the one eating the ice cream? Frankly better manners than most in my family. And there will always be idiots like that fella saying ‘the difference between animals and humans’……..guess what!!!!Things are going to be quite different soon…….how much we destroy……..arrogant a**h$%#@! I am so worried. But the responses from of all you…..I know it will be a hard road..there needs to be a new paradigm, if we are to make……and what about love.huh? what about love? If we want to go forth, it will most certainly be that we will have these four little letters in mind. If not…..are you the duck or bird? Or the Oil or entertainment, or science? I would choose wisely….

  • nelie

    This show made me weep too. And, even though I’m struggling financially right now, to donate to the chimp sanctuaries, and to write letters about using them in research (although I am not at all someone unilaterally opposed to animal research). I hope it gets as wide a distribution as possible–including easy access online.

    All I can say is a quote from “The Little Prince”; “Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

    I wish more humans would remember this truth. Especially with respect to some of our closest cousins in the animal kingdom–animals clearly capable of enduring love, as well as the grief that accompanies that.

  • Michael Osterbuhr

    I agree with those who wrote that the program is a heart-breaker and I will continue to search for contact information to donate to those lovely brave souls who are building the retirement islands for these chimpanzees.

    The next time god decides whether or not to send a flood, a plague, or a comet to wipe out humankind, she may review how we are treating each other and the animals “under our dominion.”

  • Manuela

    At least, I am happy to know that some of us still care and feel responsible for the harm that mankind inflicts to all animals…
    For the ones who asked about more information and how to make donations, on the right on this page: INSIDE THIS EPISODE box. It has the links for several website and videos. The item ADDITIONAL WEB AND PRINT RESOURCES brings you to another page with the name and websites of the sanctuaries.

  • Andy

    There is an argument posted here, to rationaloize the need to “test” for the “greater good” of humanity. The person who makes the argument lacks compassion with his argument. None.
    I am not an animal lover.
    The “greater good” should certaintly involve matters that require compassion, as the “greater good” is certainly a concept that is entirely human…including mind, body environment…and spirit. This person claims to suffer from disease that “testing” has helped to understand and treat. To benefit from the sacrifice of something else with only entitlement as the rationale makes one undeserving to that entitlement.

  • Mira Chimpsky

    Please do not call these chimps heroes, they were locked up like prisoners and forced to endure cruel medical researches for 30 long years! Heroes sacrifice themselves with their own free will!
    Some of us do feel disgraced knowing our human-animal activities involve the torture and killing of other kinds. For this reason, I do not wish to live a long life nor have any medical insurance. I would only accept basic means of pain control but not to prolong life, simply because we need to live with our own conscience.
    Human population is out of control, it’s time that the medical research and law makers focus on this urgent problem, it is the root cause of all evil.
    Best to let nature take its course. One should enjoy one’s life in each new day and accept death peacefully like a wiseman.
    No one can deny the fact that human species has only brought horrific autrocities to the planet ( corporate run agriculture, urbanization, freeways and high speed transit systems, unlimited medical research, cruel animal experimentation, senseless consumerism, an economy based on unlimited production and spending, factory farming, greed for the latest technology, global oil dependency, ongoing genocides, wars…etc.)
    Either ethically or ecologically, human beings are absolutely no good to the this beautiful planet but a tyranny to other earth residents. What kind of creature are we would torture our own next of kin?
    Deep thanks to PBS, such film does make people think and feel: What right do we have to enslave other animals for the needs and pleasure of a species spreads like diseases all over the ocean and continents?

  • Dana Carney

    Wow. After watching that… I’m shocked. And I came in half-way through. Why would someone use a chimp , who has feelings just like us, for medical research, or circus performing. I think it’s just ridiculous how selfish and un-caring the human species have become to be. People say that cavemen are more civilized than today’s society, after watching this, I believe it. Cavemen and people back then didn’t go around killing animals or hurting them just for fun. They would use it for meat or for fur, which is a lot more civilized than what people are doing today. How can people just sit around and NOT do something? I’m only 12 and donating money is just not possible right now, for me or for my family. And I understand that for other people but people could do other things to help, bring public awareness, or volunteer. People need to wake up and not be worried about things like world hunger effecting humans. They need to be worried about things like this… there are over 6 billion people on Earth, and yet there’s only a small amount of chimps, or any other animal for god’s sake. Think about the ecosystem! If one of those animals/species become extinct, and gone… we’re gone.

  • Eric Phillips

    frank guarino …I think you are missing the point stupid jerk. God did not put animals on the earth to serve us.You need to get ur head out of ur butt and realize that because of an animal…you get to live.An animal gave its life for you.You should have more feelings for animals than what you do.If it was up to me,just by ur actions,I wouldnt have saved you.Animals are very essential to Earth’s survival.There has to be a balance here.I love and cherish all animals.Not only are they fascinting,but make great companions as well.

  • Ruth MacNitt

    Mira, thank you for posting your extremely compassionate, logical, intelligent response. I have thought of many of the failings of our culture/society, but you brought up even more. I moved to the country to attempt to live closer to nature, but found quickly that farmers nearby were practicing the atrocities you point to. There seems to be no end to the greed of these factory farmers as they grow and grow. There are semis coming and going at all hours of the night, and the screams and squeals heard are chilling. The poor pigs never see the light of day. They are raised in cramped confinement and force fed, living their entire short lives in agony. Mothers are rebred and rebred until…. ??? I will never touch the meat that comes of this cruelty. I can’t stand to walk near the meat department at the grocery store. I buy food at the farmers market when I can, but my effect is only a drop in the bucket. As long as the demand for one-dollar double cheeseburgers and sausage biscuits is off the charts, this will only get worse. I didn’t see this until I actually moved from the city and lived among these people. Seeing this program on what we have done to the chimpanzees is so heart wrenching. I am so disgusted with anyone who can mistreat any animal in any way – or talk about how superior we are to them. We are the ones terrorizing and brutalizing them; it’s not the other way around. I hope we will all talk about this – get the word out – make a donation – do something to help. Thank you, PBS.

  • Mac

    Frank as the others like him are your typical man overall type. Ignore them and hope they evolve. The show however was excellent as most of these shows are. Keep up the fantastic work. By the way man is not in any way an endangered species, many of these creatures are.

  • Jennifer

    I cried..and still cannot stop! This is such a sad story..but wonderful at the same token. I’m so happy there are people out there that care and take care of them! They truly are Saints!

  • jeanine

    This is the. Sadest thing I’ve ever seen its heartbreaking to see people total disregard for the wellbeing and future conconcoquence of ripping these lovely animals out of the wild just to cause a lifetime of hell! The goverment. Should be held responsible and labrtories as well. One day they’ll be. Judged by a higher Power for the bad they’ve caused I’m absulitly Discusted.Please send me anything I can do to help I’m close to alamagodo,nm

  • hazel

    i was so upset and disturbed at what the governments involvement in this was. I am a big fan of the military but honestly had no idea of the treatment of animals there. I am so disgraced by our military and race, it completely changed my views. I would love to volunteer and help in any way i can to help the chimps. man this was a powerful video series. and bravo to the fimakers for the content. very nice. :) please sent me anything to help these chimps !

  • Pauline Z.

    I saw the film too — for the second time — which made clear that “man’s inhumanity to man” does not end THERE. I, too, wept and will make a contribution to “Save the” which cannot ever be too soon…. The way in which these chimps exhibited their affinity to the earth as their natural habitat (at the end of the program) was the most profound and lasting lesson that all members of the human race MUST learn, lest, God forbid, they themselves were to ever find themselves on the brink of extinction…. KUDOS to those compassionate human beings featured on the program, and others, who have committed their lives to the betterment of our planet with the dedication of the work that they are doing; each of you have my sincerest gratitude.

  • Gigi

    If anyone doubts that there were any unnecessary atrocities performed on these & other poor helpless chimps they should visit Heart-breaking after heart-breaking story. The really horrifying fact of the matter is that these were all babies or young juveniles. Would we do that to our own? Some as young as 3 mos. old! You wonder what kind of “person” it takes to carry out these “experiments”. If it’s so acceptable why hasn’t society jumped on the opportunity to experiment on criminals in jail for life?

  • Jason Park

    I understand that chimpanzee research has led to many breakthrough cures, but, it is selfish to torment a living entity for its entire life for this purpose. It is selfish to think that it is right. I was especially offended by frank guarino’s comments, and I think he is missing the point completely. Maybe human life is overvalued. We do have an obsession with prolonging life.

    The problem I have with chimpanzee research is it’s used to find cures for diseases that are created by people. It takes education and knowledge to truly understand the immorality of this situation. Diseases such as hepatitis and HIV are man made in origin. Finding cures for these diseases by exploiting chimpanzees is covering up something with something worse. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. Maybe we should look into why such diseases were born in the first place and target the mistakes we made in the past to fix them, even if it means changing the way we live and view ourselves. This situation is similar to how diseases such as bird flu, mad cow disease, and swine flu were born.

  • Paul in DC

    For those who wept at the subject of this show – it is because you are empathetic, and that is not just a human quality. You recognize and respect the commonalities between chimps and humans. It is a biological FACT that we share at least 98% of our genetic makeup with these wonderful primates. Personally, I feel a great affinity for these beautiful creatures. I see us humans reflected in them and reciprocally, I see them in us. So, yes, I wholeheartedly agree with all the previous commenters who rightfully ask, who are we humans to relegate the chimps to a lesser status than us so as to justify our abuse of them? I feel humans are lesser beings than they for having so horribly exploited them, and for having so long failed to recognize their grace and rightful place of respect on this earth. Thankfully, we live in an era where consciousness is being raised and our past and current wrongs against these animals is being remedied. I only hope the respect for these and other animals with whom we SHARE this planet will continue to grow. For people like Frank Guarino and people like him and their clearly ignorant comments – I hope you receive an education from all this. Your ethnocentrisim is a curse upon you. You were clearly deprived of the gift of empathy that allows one to see that humans are merely a cog in the wheel of this planet’s biodiversity – which, given any opportunity, I believe you would ignorantly destroy by your arrogant attitute that somehow humans, by the mere fact of being human and having the gift of speech, thereby have some right to exploit and destroy other beings who don’t share the human “culture”. If this planet is to survive, humans must do a better job at respecting the cultures, lives, and habitats of other creatures. Otherwise, we are all, and our offspring, certainly doomed. So, for those of you who cry, please take your crying energy and teach AWARENESS; help free other humans of the burden of their ignorance and raise the consciousnesses of those poor beings like Frank. You can’t make other people care, but we can help them think more about why they care so little.

  • DougU

    FYI the “Chamip Haven is Home Act” was signed by President Bush 12/27/2007.

    Frank Guarino (above) will not get his way. I benefited from such research as Mr. Guarnino mentions. And I thoroughly and completely disagree with him. Sentient beings should be compensated for their suffering. Surely a little bit of happiness is the least they deserve.

  • Les Louie

    It’s a crime against the laws of nature. Both touching & angry and frightening how some people will post here some kind of a wiggling justification for the treatment of these animals. Similar to the legitimacy to perform medical experiments of humans in various war concentration camps throughout history.

  • August

    Diseases are put on this planet for a reason- if there were no diseases or natural disasters or things to contribute to the decrease in human population, the world would have a heck of a lot more problems. Using animals to try and find a cure for diseases is wrong. There’s no arguing the point; it’s just wrong.

    @Frank Guarino: You may have a life threatening disease, but you aren’t the only one. I cannot believe you would rather have an animal go through h— because of something you were given by God. Things happen for a reason. So get off your soap box and think about the world outside your house that doesn’t revolve around you. Because there is a lot more these chimpanzees have gone through-and will go through- than any one of us can imagine.

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    i was so upset and disturbed at what the governments involvement in this was. I am a big fan of the military but honestly had no idea of the treatment of animals there. I am so disgraced by our military and race, it completely changed my views. I would love to volunteer and help in any way i can to help the chimps. man this was a powerful video series. and bravo to the fimakers for the content. very nice. :) please sent me anything to help these chimps !

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  • earthwithnofranks

    To Frank the walking, talking human piece of fecal matter,
    Let me get this straight. Torturing and abusing chimpanzees helped save your life. And now that you’re ok we should kill the chimps.As long as Frank’s alright, that’s all that matters.An entire species will soon be wiped off
    the face of the planet, but as least we have Frank. I’m sure we’ll all sleep a little easier tonight.
    Lets cut down what’s left of the rain forest and kill whatever lives there so there’s more room for all Franks people and starving children to farm. Let them kill all the chimps, orangutans and gorillas to sell their hands for good luck pieces and their organs for afrodisiacs.That’s why God made them anyway, right Frank.
    God put us in charge to completely destroy the entire planet and wipe out every other living thing. I’m sure that’s exactly what he had in mind. If it weren’t for you and all the other mental cases like you the planet wouldn’t be in the state it is today. Like Barry McGuire sang a long time ago “We’re on the Eve of Destruction” and no one cares.
    As long as they can make a quick million who cares what or who they destroy.
    The sad truth is the best thing that could ever happen to earth is for all humans to be wiped off the face of the planet. Maybe then, if we haven’t turned it into a giant chard cinder it will have time to heal and turn back into what it was before.

  • kierra

    Im reading about chimpanzees and one part is really sad a baboon bites a baby chimpanzees stomach and het the 5 month year old :( :(

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    I have to agree with the idea that human life takes precedence over a chimpanzee. Although, to the extent of the torture being discussed is rather inhumane. The problem is that these things (in moderation) must be done to the chimpanzees for scientific purpose, in order to preserve human life.

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  • Mister Jingles

    All this speciesistic talking makes me sick! A chimp is an animal like all the others and no human being! It is the dog who saves human life during catastrophes and not the chimp! I can’t understand why people don’t see that this obnoxious canibalistic freak has nothing to do with a human being! The so-called 98 dna pct theory was a fraud by a famous evolutionist! I don’t jump on the goodall bandwagon! This woman is a member of Heifer and telling around that people should eat goats instead of chimps! This is not animal protection but ugly speciesism! pampering chimps in Africa has become modern while african people who never saw pampers in their life are starving together with their children! It is more than ridiculous to cherish these freaks instead of giving the bananas to the hungry children! A human being is a human being and an animal is an animal which deserves to die in dignity – but every animal – not just chimps because it’s modern for the moment! People always want to find some new thrills – and for now it’s the chimp! Dogs, cats, cows and horses are not thrilling enough – it has to be something exotic – even if it’s a freak! Since Goodall showed me her real face of speciesism I have also become a speciesist – and I prefer human beings, dogs, cows, horses, birds and cats!!! African people always hunted chimps, especially pygmys! It is not up to us to teach them what they have to eat! And if today some speciesists are proclaiming that the chimp as our ‘closest relative’ is a bad role model in vivisection – why in God’s name should then other animals BE a role model! This does make no sence at all!

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  • Judith Avery

    To Mister Jingles: I fully agree with you! Chimps are not precious, adorable,cute,or loving! The infants and young are1 But along comes the ages of 4,5, and they become vicious,hard to manage, and have very nasty behaviors .God gave us dominion over the animals, but not the right of extinction!!

  • barbara Joan

    By the comments, there are many different thoughts about the Chimps. I for one feel compassion for animals used, at times painfully, in labs while confined for life. That just seems like cruel and unusal punishment for them. I’m proud their are some people who also care and feel and I’m so happy they have helped the animals and raised public awareness.

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