maybe it’s you, not him

Over the past couple of days I’ve read probably a dozen stories about Santino, the rock-mining chimp. They all seem to stem from this AP article about Mathias Osvath’s report, about how Santino calmly collects rocks from his enclosure, sometimes finding soft parts of his concrete habitat to mine new ones, then much later hurls them at human looky-loos. Not at the other chimps, just the visiting humans (no mention of caretakers).

They tried to take his rocks away. They tried to lock him up so he didn’t have rock-collecting time. Didn’t help. The ONLY POSSIBLE solution they could come to was to castrate him…which they did last fall and will find out come June or July, his peak aggro time, if it did the trick. Speaking of testicles, it looks like Santino’s the only male chimp; I wonder how males in the past have handled this place.

Didn’t they think maybe this wasn’t the best place for Santino? Transition to a new home would be disturbing, sure, but he seems to be dealing with disturbance all the friggin’ time here.

I went online to learn more about Sweden’s Furuvik Zoo—turns out it’s not really a zoo like we think of zoos (I grew up with Brookfield). Unfortunately, I couldn’t get much info from the website because my English and limited German only get me so far in this big, big world of ours, but this is a zoo, a circus, an amusement park, a pool, and a place of lodging. Maybe it’s really, really big so the animals don’t have to listen to kids on rides all day. But even at well-set-up zoos (I’ll get into my feelings about zoos at a later date), the number of idiotic humans is astounding. I can only imagine what happens when the kids come here to swim and go on rides and eat sugary treats, then “Hey, there’s some monkeys we can squeal at!”

I admit, I have a soft spot for chimpanzees (even softer for bonobos). These fellas laugh, play, mourn, and apparently plan for war. Now, there’s speculation as to whether this particular chimp is a genius. The question is moot. He’s obviously smart enough to let us know he’s upset with his surroundings, and as humans, we can help him find new surroundings. Was there no other sanctuary or preserve willing to take him, or did they not bother asking and just start snipping?

In captivity, chimps have been known to live to 60—it makes me pretty dern sad to think that Santino’s only halfway through this bullshit. I know, I know, other chimps have it much, much worse. But this was in the news and I felt like commenting on it today.

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