The Chimpanzee: Our Closest Living Relative

Posted By:  Tina Walker Davis
Date Posted:  7/9/2014

ChimpsChimpanzees are our closest living relatives—we share nearly 99 percent of their DNA—and new research continues to shed light on just how similar we are. “Sharing 98.76 percent of the same DNA as humans, chimpanzees are closer to us than they are to gorillas,” says Shayla Scott, the director of education outreach at Chimps Inc., a chimpanzee sanctuary located in Central Oregon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 • 6:00 p.m.
Downtown Bend Library

Rachel Bronstein, Senior Caregiver at Chimps Inc., will join us at the Downtown Bend Library on July 23 at 6:00 p.m. to lead an engaging and informative exploration of chimp biology and behavior as part of our science-themed Summer Reading Program. This event is free and open to people of all ages; no registration is required.

While genetic evidence suggests that the ancestors of humans and chimpanzees diverged roughly four million years ago, many people still feel a connection with these highly intelligent animals. “The complexity within the chimpanzee’s social structure, behavior, communication and cognitive abilities provides insight to the evolution of humans,” says Scott.

But this close connection has led to some to treat chimpanzees too much like humans. “Chimpanzees seen on television or used in advertisements are not ideal models for natural chimpanzee behavior,” says Scott. “They are raised to act like humans and to perform tricks that are unnatural and misleading. This results in the misperception of their behavior and often stimulates desires for humans to want them as pets.”

During the talk at the library, Bronstein will discuss why chimpanzees don’t make good pets as well as explain how Chimps Inc. helps animals that have been exploited. “It is our mission to reach out to the public regarding the exploitation that chimpanzees and other wild animals can face when living as pets or entertainers. What’s often overlooked is that entertainment chimps are generally infants,” says Scott. “Due to their aggressive nature as they age, they are retired by the time they are seven to 10 years of age.”

Chimps Inc. is a sanctuary specifically designed to provide lifetime care to captive chimpanzees rescued or retired from the pet and entertainment industries. The organization is dedicated to overcoming the exploitation and cruelty that chimps face through advocacy, conservation, education and outreach.

For more information about these or other library programs, please visit the library website at People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Tina at 541-312-1034.

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