If I were to describe an animal to you as: self-aware, able to use reason and logic, lives within a familial social structure, highly intelligent and emotional, what would you guess was the animal to which I was referring? A human? Perhaps someone you know or even yourself?
While that guess is close, off by only a 10 percent differential–the real animal I was referring to was a chimpanzee. However, despite the fact that chimps kiss and embrace the same way we do, we treat them as our subordinates. Although we have proven many times that chimpanzees are incredibly intelligent, able to learn and use symbolic language, we still lock them in cages for the purpose of our entertainment or even worse use them for lab experiments and testing.
Chimps may not look like we do, but that does not mean they can’t understand and feeling in a manner that is distinctly similar to that of a human.
Speaking to her first hand experience recognizing the humanity of chimps, Jane Goodall writes in Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, “staring into the eyes of a chimpanzee, I saw a thinking, reasoning personality looking back.”
And so, if we can justify our treatment of other living things based on our ability to sympathize and empathize with the creature staring back at us, would seeing the same expressions and emotions of a human-being staring back at you not inspire you to treat that creature with the due respect you afford another human?
Not all of us will have the opportunity Goodall has had, to live up close and personal with chimpanzees and apes, so in an effort to illustrate the incredible phenomenon of seeing these amazing creatures as our closest relatives I present you with the chimpanzees of Chimp Sanctuary Northwest.
Diana Goodrich of Chimp Sanctuary Northwest, took these photographs of the chimpanzees she cares for at the sanctuary. The photos aren’t posed, but simply reflect the chimpanzees in their own right. Look through these photos and see if you can spot the person…
Annie snuggles up for a nap.
Burrito has long days too.
Jody has lunch on the go.
Jody and Missy share a smooch.
Jamie makes sand castles.
Annie has a daily yoga practice.
Foxie loves her Dora dolly.
Missy likes to watch over her friends.
Hand holding is universal…
All image source: Chimp Sanctuary NW