Monday, 6 February 2017

Our changing attitudes to chimpanzees

David Shukman Science editor
2 February 2017

The BBC's revelations about the illegal trade in baby chimpanzees triggered an outpouring of emotion on social media about the cruelty suffered by these adorable animals

And this raises questions about how our attitudes to our closest relations in the natural world have changed. 

Some people who contacted me volunteered to adopt Nemley Jr, the infant rescued from traffickers after the BBC investigation. 

Many expressed outrage at the wealthy buyers in China, South East Asia and the Gulf states whose demand encourages poachers to go on raids in the jungles.

There has also been a new burst of fury at celebrities posing with chimps. 

Michael Jackson famously kept one called Bubbles. 

Paris Hilton drew criticism for kissing a baby chimp. 

More recently, Louis Tomlinson, of One Direction, was criticised for using one in a video. 

And a small number on Twitter and Facebook were so disturbed by the heart-breaking scenes in our videos that they wanted to see anyone trading endangered animals immediately locked up or even killed.

What this represents is the latest episode in a long and often shameful relationship between chimps and humans.

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