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Can Chimps Talk?

Classroom Activity

To consider the issues involved in using animals in research.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "Protecting Animal Rights" student handout (PDF or HTML)
  1. Divide the class into an even number of groups, with three to four people per group. For each pair of groups, assign one group the role of "Researchers" and the other the role of "Chimpanzee Experimental Subjects." Then hand out copies of the "Protecting Animal Rights" student handout, instructing each group to fill out the portions of the sheet that relate to its role, without communicating with the other group.

  2. After the groups have completed their portions, have each pair of "Researchers" and "Chimps" sit across from each other to negotiate a contract. The Researchers should begin by stating what they plan to do with the Chimps, and why. The Chimps then state what they will accept as fair treatment, if they agree to participate at all. Give the groups 10 minutes to negotiate and complete their contract.

  3. Stop the negotiations and have the Researcher groups share their responses. How do they view their responsibility towards the Chimps? Does the potential benefit to humans justify use of the animals? Are there other ways to gather the same data without infringing on animal rights?

  4. Next, have the Chimpanzee groups share what it was like to be considered "experimental fodder." What feelings would they like to convey to the Researchers? Do the animals need to justify their own rights? How do they feel about the distinctions made between them and the humans?

Activity Answer

Researcher groups should consider how they will go about gathering data from their subjects, as well as how they will treat the animals while they are conducting the study, and what provisions they will make for the animals' care after the study is completed. Chimps should think about what sorts of treatments would be inhumane or otherwise unacceptable.

Teacher's Guide
Can Chimps Talk?

Video is not required for this activity