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Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Skype Meeting for Bow

Yesterday, I started to take action with regard to my long term plan to help Bow become acquainted with other chimpanzees. I contacted some other chimpanzee owners, and I spoke to them about introducing our chimps to each other via Skype. There are no immediate results from this, but at least they didn't say "No." Which is a lot better than what I get when I suggest this idea to primatologists with institutional employers or zoo people.

Perhaps I myself have been guilty of the same sort of prejudice against other chimp owners that some institutional primatologists have against me. After all, I am doing research with Bow into his linguistic abilities. I am not "playing Tarzan." In a way, up until now, even though I knew there were other chimpanzee owners, I tried to distance myself from them. I was more "legitimate" in my own eyes. But that is a bunch of nonsense, isn't it? There is no such thing as legitimacy. It's all a matter of attitude. I and the other chimpanzee owners are leading a lonely existence with strong forces fighting us and trying to drive us into giving up. If we don't help each other, who will help us?  

Of course, it would be dangerous to try to introduce adult and adolescent chimpanzees to each other in person.  They could unwittingly transmit diseases to each other, and any new chimpanzee in an institution has to be quarantined and tested and very slowly and carefully introduced to each of the others alone, before being introduced to the group. All this has to be done in order to avoid real physical danger. But I'm not suggesting that we do that. I'm suggesting that we let them talk to each other via Skype. Skype is free. It costs nothing to talk on Skype. And yet certain  zoos have told me they could not do this,  because they don't have a budget for it! I wonder, do they have a budget for email?

Anyway, a chimp is a chimp. I don't need the cooperation of zoo people or institutional primatologists to get access to another chimp online. Privately owned chimps may actually be more fluent in English than their zoo-jailed counterparts. So letting Bow try to talk vocally to private chimps seems like a better experiment.  I don't know why I've waited this long.

"Give me a wife," Bow said this morning at breakfast. "A pretty one."

"What if there isn't a pretty one?" I asked. "Would you settle for an ugly one?"

"Get the prettiest there is," he replied.

I smiled. They say that among chimpanzees, there are no old maids. No chimpanzee female goes to  her death a virgin. The old maids of our Western culture are a symptom of monogamy. No female is too ugly if you don't have to settle for her as your only mate! I read that in a primatology book, so it must be true!

The important thing to remember is: if one door is closed, another may open. I'm keeping an open mind about communicating with other chimpanzees on-line.


  1. Online dating for Bow! :D Sounds like a great idea! I'm sure he will meet someone very pretty!

  2. Suzanne, Bow was encouraged by your supportive comment, which I read to him. He asked me to see if you could put a good word in for him with a pretty girl chimp!

  3. Give me a husband. I want one like "Joe": Intelligent, patient, handsome, tall...A scientist!!

  4. June, I'll have to check out the video. The link isn't working here. Anyway, it sounds as if you and Bow have similar aspirations for wedded bliss!