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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Be Fruitful and Multiply

Nothing unusual has been happening here. The weather has gotten very hot, and Bow enjoys sunning himself outside, between rainstorms.

I like how the sunlight catches his eyebrows and eyelashes in strange glints of light, like tinsel.

On my walks, I notice that as last week's flowers fade, new ones have bloomed.

I don't know what these flowers are called, what they are good for, what their properties are. Given another forty years on this land, though, I might acquire the kind of lore that chimpanzees and human hunter-gatherers have about their environment. I think that there is the same storage space in our brains, no matter what kind of lore we put in there, and that a modern education is not necessarily better than a lifetime spent in nature, learning how things work.

For instance, I am not sure that the green fruit that I characterized as "service berries as big as cherries" is actually the same as the tiny service berries that are now ripe and red. The leaves on that tree are so much bigger than the leaves on the service berry bush, and the green fruit reminds me a little of the mystery fruit on our mystery tree.

So yesterday, thinking about this, I went to take a look  at the mystery tree, and its fruit seems to be turning purple!

It's definitely looking very plum-like now. My friend Martyn's suggestion that this tree is related to the sloe or the blackthorn seems to be bearing out. But the service berries as big as cherries are still green as green can be, and the leaves on their tree are much bigger than those on the mystery tree. If Bow and I had been living in the wild all our lives, we would not be so mystified by the local vegetation. We would know the name of every fruit in the garden on Eden.

But instead, we know how to read and write. We have eaten of the tree of knowledge, and this makes us less knowledgeable in matters involving common sense and life and death. Can Bow ever be allowed to live with a mate in our wild savanna of a pasture? Can they be allowed unlimited and unfettered access to the trees and shrubs and wildlife, as long as they are contained therein? What would limit their reproductive activity so that they would not overpopulate their five acre island?

Two days ago, the big news for chimpanzees in America was that "captive" chimpanzees have been added to the endangered species list.

I heard about this at first through HSUS, an organization that under the guise of protecting animal welfare gets laws passed to ban private ownership, like the one that got that lion killed by the state in Ohio recently. So I was very concerned when I first heard the news, and I wanted to know what this listing means for domestic chimpanzees. As far as I can tell, though, it merely limits invasive procedures on chimpanzees without getting a permit, and all in the name of conserving the species. So I guess that means no more neutering of male chimps, no vasectomies or hysterectomies in order to limit population growth? Sanctuaries are now going to have to let chimps breed freely, even if it means running out of resources to feed them?

I'm betting it does not mean that, even though logically that's what you'd expect. Federal laws are usually labeled one thing, but they mean something else entirely. Take the Patriot Act or the Freedom USA Act or whatever they are calling it today. Listing domestic chimpanzees as an endangered species has probably got nothing to do with making sure that chimpanzees continue to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth on our side of the ocean. It probably is an excuse to cut funding and curtail research and make sure that in another century there will be no American chimpanzees at all. It may even be used as an excuse to confiscate private chimpanzees and send them to sanctuaries where they will live out their natural existence without bringing forth another new soul to feed.

 When a species is endangered, it means that it is close to extinction. Two factors play a major role in that: too much dying or not enough procreating. If there is a good supply of new babies who grow to adulthood in every generation, then it does not much matter, for the purpose of species survival, what happens to the adults after they reproduce. For instance, this is why the cow species in the US is not endangered. Out of its own self interest, the beef industry makes sure it never runs out of cows.

But Animal Rights activists are rejoicing at this new change in chimpanzee legislation, and Animal Rights activists are in favor of extinction for American chimpanzees for reasons of "animal welfare."
No chimpanzees in the US, they reason, is better than any chimpanzees here who are not absolutely free. Meanwhile, in Africa they will be extinct very soon. All of this is very tricky, and the general public has no idea what really is going on. I have friends who support HSUS, because they think that organization saves dogs and cats from abusive owners. They still have no idea what fraud is being perpetrated on them.

The situation with chimpanzees and animal rights activists is not that different from the situation with social workers, child welfare laws and child protective services. That is what the musical, The Debt Collector, is about.

It sounds like a good idea to protect children from abusive parents, but the machinery that gets put into place often takes children away from fallible but essentially good parents and places them in dangerous situations with people who are not their parents at all.

Hopefully, whatever is going on with the Endangered Species Act and domestic chimpanzees will not affect Bow and me. I don't plan on doing anything invasive to him. and he's pretty happy where he is.

Someday, though, I would like to be able to get Bow into a more natural environment, where he will have a chance to be fruitful and multiply. It will be good for him -- and by extension for all chimp kind.


  1. I heard everyone was trying to get people in pet ownership on some blog. Thankfully, most people have common sense and voiced their minds on it. One guy said most people would not want to own a chimp, but why ban pet ownership, when many people own dogs, and dogs have attacked humans, too. No one is banning dog ownership, he pointed out. I do not think such a law would pass. People should not be judged just because a few people have had bad circumstances. I think common sense will prevail.

    1. Thanks, Julia. I certainly hope good sense will prevail.