Researchers find it very necessary to keep blinkers on. They don't want to admit that the animals they are working with have feelings. They don't want to admit that they might have minds and personalities because that would make it quite difficult for them to do what they do; so we find that within the lab communities there is a very strong resistance among the researchers to admitting that animals have minds, personalities and feelings.
It has actually been suggested that warfare may have been the principle evolutionary pressure that created the huge gap between the human brain and that of our closest living relatives, the anthropoid apes. Whole groups of hominids with inferior brains could not win wars and were therefore exterminated.
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I feel a desperation to make people see what we are doing to the environment, what a mess we are making of our world. At this point, the more people I reach, the more I accomplish. ... I miss Gombe and my wonderful years in the forest But if I were to go back to that, I wouldn't feel I was doing what I should be doing.
Certainly the first true humans were unique by virtue of their large brains. It was because the human brain is so large when compared with that of a chimpanzee that paleontologists for years hunted for a half-ape, half-human skeleton that would provide a fossil link between the human and the ape.
I do not want to discuss evolution in such depth, however, only touch on it from my own perspective: from the moment when I stood on the Serengeti plains holding the fossilized bones of ancient creatures in my hands to the moment when, staring into the eyes of a chimpanzee, I saw a thinking, reasoning personality looking back. You may not believe in evolution, and that is all right. How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves.
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In what terms should we think of these beings, nonhuman yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics? How should we treat them? Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes? Yes.
I became intensely aware of the being-ness of trees. The feel of rough sun-warmed bark of an ancient forest giant, or the cool, smooth skin of a young and eager sapling, gave me a strange, intuitive sense of the sap as it was sucked up by unseen roots and drawn up to the very tips of the branches, high overhead.
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Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.
There are an awful lot of scientists today who believe that before very long we shall have unraveled all the secrets of the universe. There will be no puzzles anymore. To me, it'd be really, really tragic because I think one of the most exciting things is this feeling of mystery, feeling of awe, the feeling of looking at a little live thing and being amazed by it and how it has emerged through these hundreds of years of evolution and there it is and it is perfect and why.
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In Tanzania, the chimps are isolated in a very tiny patch of forest. I flew over it 13 years ago and realized that, basically, all the trees had gone, that people all around the park are struggling to survive. It became very clear that there was no way to protect the chimps while the people were in this dire circumstance.
We started off with physical evolution and got our form. Then we somehow developed language, which meant cultural evolution could race so we could change our behavior really quickly instead of over hundreds and hundreds of years. And then comes moral evolution, which means we're not frightfully far along with people. And maybe we end up with a spiritual evolution, which is this connectedness with the rest of the life forms on the planet.
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I believe that the tragedy [like terror attack] that's caused so much grief and suffering to so many thousands and thousands of people has also served as a call to action, because many people now are re-examining their own value systems, and the churches, temples, mosques and cathedrals are packed to overflowing for the first time in years.
I don't think anybody has the right to a huge family. There's already more people on the planet than our natural resources can even support, and if everybody were to have a high standard of living, we need three or four or five new planets to provide the resources. And this cannot be, so something has to change.
The more we learn of the true nature of non-human animals, especially those with complex brains and corresponding complex social behavior, the more ethical concerns are raised regarding their use in the service of man""whether this be in entertainment, as 'pets,' for food, in research laboratories, or any of the other uses to which we subject them.