Can you hurt a chimp’s feelings?

Video footage claiming to show chimps ‘grieving’ has sparked new debate over the ethical treatment of animals – but we should beware of jumping to conclusions

Is it an invasion of privacy to film an animal in its burrow? Or a whale as it exhibits its penis in a courtship display? Or to use a remote camera to film a bear giving birth in its den? According to a film studies lecturer from the University of East Anglia, it could be. If an animal retreats to its burrow, it obviously doesn’t want to be seen, he claims. Unlike the inhabitants of the Big Brother house, these creatures have not given consent. These assertions are a step further along the line from a cautionary ethical approach towards taking care not to disrupt wild behaviour. Instead, Brett Mills appears to be claiming that human emotions can be assumed within animals as well.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/apr/30/chimpanzees-emotions-ethics

‘Grieving’ chimps need rigorous study

Chimpanzee images have been presented as proof they share human emotions. Be wary of such speculative observation.

 

Who could have seen, and not been moved by, the video shown this week of a group of chimpanzees apparently mourning the death of Pansy, an elderly member of their troupe? The chimps gathered around her, moving her bedding gently and apparently checking her breathing. The video accompanying a report in the journal Current Biology was offered to support the idea that chimpanzees share human emotions like grief. Last year an equally striking image had shown a group of chimpanzees watching as the body of one of their group was carried off. The chimps stood silently, their arms around each other’s shoulders, apparently consoling one other.

Full article

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/apr/29/grieving-chimps-need-more-research