Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ape justice

People can have a schizophrenic view of great apes.

On the one hand, we want to protect apes in their natural habitat, and condemn those who traffic in the black market for the pet trade. On the other hand, we condone Leonardo DiCaprio and others who support the exploitation of captive apes for human entertainment.

In the latest news, we resoundingly applaud the news that a New York County Supreme Court Justice has granted legal standing on behalf of two chimpanzees being used in biomedical experimentation, to force their release to Save the Chimps. (See this blog post from Born Free for the best explanation I’ve seen on the “writ of habeas corpus” excitement.) On the other hand, we ignore the plight of two gorillas living for years in trailers while a defunct language experiment enters its final death throes.

The public has been intrigued by blondes and apes
since King Kong fell in love with Fay Wray in 1933.
Oh, I see the difference. The secretive biomedical industry is made up of evil men committing unspeakable acts, while the open and transparent language experimenter is a pretty blonde who cuddles with her captives. However, the differences may not be as wide as we imagine.

People are trying to free two chimps -- Hercules and Leo -- from a university research program. Some information is out there on Stony Brook University’s research on chimps. Dr. Susan Larson wants to determine if “australopithecine bipedality was transitional between that of apes and humans.” One of her students, Nathan Thompson, is “performing a kinematic investigation of head motion and its relationship to gait in both humans and chimpanzees.” Dr. Brigitte Demes’ current research “addresses the facultative bipedal locomotion of nonhuman primates (capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees) with the goal of better understanding the evolutionary changes related to the adoption of habitual bipedal posture and gait in early hominins.” I assume they are using Hercules and Leo in this research. (Let me clear: I think the research is of questionable value, and it certainly is not worth the life-long price demanded of the chimpanzees and monkeys.)

Now let’s compare this to the information available about Koko and Ndume, at The Gorilla Foundation. We don’t know if any research is being conducted. We don’t even know, for sure, that both of the gorillas are still alive. They have always treated feces-flinging Ndume like shit, but now he has dropped entirely from sight. As recently as April 9, the Foundation was touting its “most comprehensive conservation effort to-date (sic) – featuring BOTH Koko and Michael.” Not Koko and Ndume, but LONG DEAD Michael, who passed away 15 years ago.

Seeing the latest list of Gorilla Foundation employees adds fuel to the speculation about the gorillas. A couple of years ago, in its heyday, the Foundation employed nine caregivers. The information on their website now shows two caregivers (who also handle administrative functions) and a recent high school graduate working as nighttime monitor. That is not a sufficient crew to take care of two screwed up adult gorillas. (It is interesting to note they boast FOUR executives and a personal assistant to the director, in addition to two administrative staffers. Speaks volumes about priorities, doesn’t it?) So, are they understaffed for two gorillas, or staffed barely well enough for one?

I heartily support the efforts of the Nonhuman Rights Project to get the New York chimpanzees released to a safe sanctuary. I wish we could do the same for the California gorillas. Even if we can’t send Ndume to a sanctuary or to a zoo more responsible than his owner (Cincinnati Zoo), I wish we could know that he is alive and well. And that Michael has not come back from the dead.


  1. Thanks Dawn. Again you're spot on. The Ndume and Koko shenanigans are disturbing at best. Can't imagine how this 'team' could find any time for their so called research and conservation projects. Seems they ran out of steam with the baby and Maui money pit projects so they're bringing Michael back from the dead for another go-round. Disgusting.

  2. Same story, different time. The Gorilla Foundation has gone through this scenario many times, some public and some untold. They have and will continue to do what they always do. And what is that? The vast majority of the public seems to feel that it is "research" and "care", but the 200 or so former employees that have worked for this organization know this is a lie. The "research" is basically scribbles and inconsistent notation. What they lack in quality, they make up in volume. There are thousands and thousands of pages of frequently indiscernible text, not to mention the videotape and now digital files. And as far as "care" goes, it's a joke. Care does not equal cooking special gluten free pizza and forcing down 50-100 daily supplements, but if Patterson and the psychic agree it must be good care. Why don’t you use the thousands of dollars spent monthly on supplements to clean and repair your dilapidated and filthy facility? No, that would be the responsible way to do things, not The Gorilla Foundation way.
    I was somewhat optimistic when “Nipple Gate” occurred that there would be change, but no. Then when the large group of employees left a couple years back with even more claims of atrocities, I thought for sure there would be some action, but no again. I am not sure what it will take to shine a spotlight on what is and has gone on at The Gorilla Foundation. Actually I do know, but I’m not sure if that evidence still exists or those in possession are willing to face the consequences of releasing it.
    So where do we go next? I wish that I had the answer. I truly fear that there is now way to end this travesty of an experiment. It must run its course, reaching the ultimate endpoint of Koko’s death. And even then I only give it a 50/50 chance of ending. If they still have Ndume, they will still have a gorilla to bring in the cash. Thank you Dawn for keeping this issue alive the best you can!

    1. I'm told the evidence DOES still exist, but the person who has it is too scared to release it. So the pitiful scam continues ad nauseum.

  3. It it is so sad that no one gives a s*** about the goings on at the Gorilla Foundation. 40 years of mismanagement(yes it has been going on that long), but no one cares. Let the pretty blond lade continue her work.......uhh study.....research......experiment. Call it what you will, it's just wrong. Every seems to be content. Just let it run it's course. Maybe that will be the best. But what is the "course"?

    I see a few options(in order of what I see as the most likely conclusion
    1. Koko passes and TGF uses this as a push for more money.Eventually they collapse, but it is a slow process.

    2. Ndume dies first. this brings little attention since he is a shit throwing outcast.

    3. Another scandal erupts and TGF is flung into the spotlight once again. Three months pass and it is over. Maybe this should be number one. Very possible, but since the continue to hire the young and naive, I will keep this at number three.

    3. Patterson or Cohn pass. Most likely there is enough crazieness in either to keep things running.

    4. Some actual incriminating evidence is released. AND a news agency picks it up. Still a big chance this feeds back into #3, but the best chance for change.

    So why am I writing this? Guess I am just sad for my gorilla friends. Is anyone even reading this? If so, please post. Something needs to be done.

    1. The person who has the incriminating evidence needs to release it. Here is the link to submit to Wikileaks: