Thinking as a Hobby

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

3478585 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Visiting the Apes
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (6)

Yesterday I was finally able to visit the New Iberia Research Center as part of a class I'm taking this semester. It's a primate research facility with several thousand monkeys (including capuchins and macaques) and several hundred chimpanzees (apparently about 25% of the chimpanzee population in the US).

We only actually saw about 20 chimps. We saw a demo of one part of a previous experiment where the chimps were presented with one of two objects that looked exactly the same but had very different weights (either very heavy or very light). They had to learn to sort the object by weight alone, by placing it in the correct tray, after which they were rewarded with a food treat. Apparently, it's much more difficult for chimps to learn to sort objects based on weight alone, as opposed to visual features of the object, such as color or shape. It takes a chimp many, many trials to learn the task, though they do eventually learn it. Young children, however, learn the task on the first trial. We talked a little bit about this experiment and others, and what it might say about how chimpanzees conceptualize the world around them.

I'd been warned by another student who worked with chimps that they're dangerous animals (she told me stories about people who've been severely maimed...if chimps attack you they often try to bite off your fingers). So I didn't go near the cages. Still, a female chimp managed to spit on one of our female students, and on the way out, I saw a male chimp grunt loudly and run to the back of his cage. A second later he ran back to the front and hurled a gob of shit at us. Luckily we were about 20 feet away and it barely missed any of us. All in all, though, I think we were happier to see the chimps than they were to see us.

Read/Post Comments (6)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.