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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Typical Behavior of a Male Chimpanzee

What is typical behavior for a male chimpanzee? Is there a particular way they eat muffins that just gives away their jungle heritage?

I baked lemon poppy seed muffins yesterday. Bow licked the bowl, and he enjoyed the muffins very much.

Is he left-handed? you might be asking yourself. Why is he holding that muffin in his left hand? Keep in mind, he's holding the plate in his right hand, to catch any crumbs that may fall. Bow is a civilized chimpanzee.

Occasionally, Bow takes a break from eating and puts the muffin back down on the plate that he continues to hold up with his right hand.

Is this typical chimpanzee muffin-eating behavior or is this just Bow? I have no idea. My experience is limited to Bow. Some people say that this is a reason to disqualify me as an expert. But there are people who have studied many chimpanzees all their lives in the wild and who could not answer this question, either. They may have watched chimpanzees from sunup to sundown and yet have never seen any of them eat a lemon poppy seed muffin off a blue willow china plate. I just might the world's foremost expert on this phenomenon.

Jane Goodall using her expert status to insult male chimpanzees
Do male chimpanzees use displays and vocalizations to dominate others? Yes, they do. But is it always used against females in a power struggle? Is it always used against high status females who are members of their social group and inside, rather than outside of their territory and/or enclosure? Absolutely not.

In the video embedded above, I am inside the pen with Bow, while Leo is outside the pen. Bow does not display at me. He displays at Leo, the outsider. And even the display against Leo is more playful than it is meant to actually scare the dog. Because Bow and I are on the same side and belong to the same social group, he behaves in a way that is deferential toward me. And Bow does not always act like a typical chimpanzee. Sometimes his behavior is very human-like, as when he walks upright on two feet.

To equate Donald Trump's behavior with what chimpanzee males typically do is to insult male chimpanzees. In my experience, male chimpanzees are much more gentlemanly than that. But I also think that what Jane Goodall is doing in the image that was provided with the Huffington Post article is crudely disrespectful. She is giving a press conference about chimpanzees, with her back turned to the chimpanzees who are right behind her in an enclosure. I would not be surprised if those chimps jumping at the glass actually did want to harm her. She is showing no respect to their territorial rights.

On top of all this, Goodall seems to be endorsing Hillary Clinton when she fails to mention those behaviors that the Democrat engages in which are similar to the behaviors of chimpanzee females who come to power by forming coalitions with powerful males. It is one thing to note that all human beings have much in common with chimpanzees and that we share many typical behaviors, such as eating nicely off plates, when we are given nice plates to eat off of, and trying to scare our competitors or shooing away strangers who are trespassing on our territory. But when a so-called expert uses her expertise to compare one candidate but not another in a political race to a chimpanzee, and she does it in a way that insults chimpanzees, then she is clearly partisan and not a scientist who is just sharing her professional opinion. She is no more a friend to chimpanzees than Hillary is a friend to women.

I don't like Donald Trump. I also don't like Hillary Clinton. I do like chimpanzees. I would never use the fact that there are some undeniable similarities between humans and chimpanzees in a political fight. Comparing male chimpanzees to Donald Trump is an insult to male chimpanzees.

And in case you think Jane Goodall is completely nonpartisan in her remarks, please remember that US Fish & Wildlife is giving her taxpayer money to fund her anti-chimpanzee ventures. I'm guessing she's hoping a Democrat wins.

Screen shot of Jane Goodall on the US Fish and Wildlife Service Page
Our Government is Funding Her!


  1. If you just watched Fox News or CNN or read certain mainstream outlets, it is all about Bill, Hillary, and Trump. I am glad years ago you pointed out to me there were other ways because at the time I was so entrenched in the Democratic way of thinking. It did not make our country more economically prosperous, and I think that is important. As someone who has never benefited from a union or crony capitalism, I no longer see the point of supporting Democrats who like to spend a lot. Now Democrats and Republicans seem on the same page regarding hawkish foreign policy, so what is the difference anymore. Someone points out a woman running for office might not agree with another woman running for office, and the response is "I am with Hillary". I suppose the changing point came for me when I realized I am not married to a political party. I am not a strong Libertarian like you Aya, but I am tired of all the salacious gossip and out and out promotion of one candidate over others.

    1. Hi, Julia, I really appreciate your open-mindedness. I am not married to a political party, either. I am supporting Gary Johnson because he seems by far the closest to what I believe is right, even though I do not think him ideal. But if a better candidate were found under a different party label, I would not hesitate to vote my conscience.