Chimps will attack your face and genitals
February 18, 2009 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Chimpanzees don't make good pets. Really, they can be aggressive. Even Save the Chimps says so.

No disrespect to the deceased intended.
posted by raider (85 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"From Chimpan-A to Chimpanzee,
Yes you've finally made a monkey out of me!"
- Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off
posted by crossoverman at 8:32 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oo oo, aah aah?
posted by swift at 8:33 PM on February 18, 2009

This is really fucking sad and makes my heart hurt, and that doesn't happen a whole lot.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:33 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

You missed this link here, and perhaps something on Nim Chimpsky.

People suck for expecting them to consistently act/react like big kids in diapers, instead of the wild animals they actually are.
posted by availablelight at 8:46 PM on February 18, 2009

Yeah, well chimps -- our closest relatives, and similar to us in need for same-species socialization, and territory, and access to mates -- shouldn't fucking well be pets or even worse, living props dressed up in human cloths for stupid movies and advertisements.

Actually, I'm almost convinced by Dawkins that chimps shouldn't be used for laboratory experiments -- and am convinced that the very few experiments that require chimps are useless if the chimp isn't housed in a habitat similar enough to its natural habitat that the chimp isn't suffering from isolation and depression. And once the experiment is completed, labs shouldn't be able to just sell off the chimps; teh lab should have to provide a decent retirement for the animals.

I'm no animal rights activist, but chimps are close enough to human that we ethically need to make sure their lives aren't ruined for people's vanity or profits.
posted by orthogonality at 8:52 PM on February 18, 2009 [7 favorites]

The one that ate St. James Davis' nose, testicles and foot, was at one time trained to eat with a knife and fork. But at the time of the attack, decided that utensils were superfluous.

To indulge in a little more anthropomorphizing, I can't say that I blame the ape for acting out what, in my mind, was the buildup of years of resentment for being made a monkey, when in actuality, he was a Great Ape and had no natural interest in being toilet trained or able to eat with a goddam knife and fork.

Projectively, I can hear his train of thought in my mind . . .
"You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny? You know what's funny? Your nose, your balls and your foot, as I shit them out. That is goddamn funny."
posted by isopraxis at 8:57 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

And, apparently, we're going to need someone new to write the stimulus bill.
posted by GuyZero at 8:59 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Who are you calling a chimp!?
posted by metaplectic at 9:01 PM on February 18, 2009

I'd really love to talk to a chimp biologist about how they arrive at the "seven times stronger than a human" figure. I don't doubt it, oh no. I want to know what goes into it -- what exactly makes them that strong, with such a huge strength-to-weight ratio?

The muscle cells might not be stronger, what is it about the musculature, connective tissue and skeletal structure that makes, say, a chimp fully capable of seriously fucking up an NFL linebacker and throwing him over a goalpost...?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:06 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

"You missed this link here, and perhaps something on Nim Chimpsky."

[He] kept his one copy of this book safe,... under his sleeping area so that no one could destroy it. He would just look at pictures of his New York City family, and himself, over and over again. Elizabeth Hess discusses Nim, the subject of her book Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human. Also: the Great Ape Project's Declaration on Great Apes

That just makes me so sad and angry: the damned thing was enough like you and me that it could stare at an old photo for decades, wondering why it had been wrenched away from what it thought of as its family, wondering where they were,, why he was in a cage, whether his "family" was OK. For decades. And yet not enough like us that anyone could ever explain to him, the human venality that led to twice orphaning him.

Even a slave unjustly taken from his family, transported to another continent to labor in the fields or be whipped and starved, even that slave at least has the cold comfort of making up a story to the explain his loss: he may blame himself for a "sin", or an angry god, or the slavers, but at least he has a story to cling to.

The poor chimp doesn't even have a made-up story to pretend to explain his predicament, to explain to himself why he lives in a bare steel cage or why none of the furless chimps around him smell right and none will ever be his mate, or why he has to wear chains or human clothes or perform tricks or take medicines that cramp his gut.

He's got all the disadvantages of the dumb animal -- dumb in the original sense of "without speech" -- and all the disadvantages of having an almost human mind that can comprehend too much for comfort and insists on asking "why"?

Caliban had every reason, and every right, to hate Prospero.
posted by orthogonality at 9:08 PM on February 18, 2009 [15 favorites]

By all means, make the little buggers legal persons. Just don't let 'em near my reproductive organs!
posted by grobstein at 9:08 PM on February 18, 2009

From the Save the Chimps link:

As the chimp who was once a helpless baby grows into adulthood, they will become seven times stronger than you are, able to cause serious injury.

What aspects of the chimp's anatomy allow it to be seven times stronger than the average adult male? Do they have more muscle tissue relative to bodyweight than we do? Do their muscles work more efficiently than ours? If so, why?
posted by jason's_planet at 9:12 PM on February 18, 2009

Do NOT try and fight a chimp, people.
posted by teraflop at 9:17 PM on February 18, 2009

How do you tear off a foot without tearing off the whole leg?
posted by spicynuts at 9:17 PM on February 18, 2009

There was another horrific story with video, of a chimp attack, it showed the chimp take the hand of a well-meaning explorer getting off his little boat, and crush all the bones in it. It made me wonder if our handshakes are proof that we won't crush each others hands.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:21 PM on February 18, 2009

For a tiny ray of sunshine in the bleak world of mistreated chimps there is Monkey World, a sanctuary that was featured on an Animal Planet series years ago. They rescue and offer sanctuary to several types of primates but the show mostly featured their chimps. They keep them in groups with huge areas to play in and so forth.

Anyway, at least for some who are rescued, they get to have a decent life. Well, dedicated people who try to make it as good as possible for them under the circumstances.
posted by marble at 9:22 PM on February 18, 2009

Cool Papa Bell: My guess is, it's because chimps principally use their upper bodies for, well, locomotion, whereas we use our lower bodies. Notice that chimps have much less defined hips and legs, compared to ours.

There's also a little info at the bottom of this page.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:25 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree that it's pretty twisted to make a chimp into a pet. The closest analogue to a chimp isn't a dog, it's a toddler. A toddler that, if angry enough, is entirely capable of ripping your arm off and beating you to death with it. I guess that's nature's way of telling you not to dress them up in adorable costumes.

Chimps are really at the nexus of the dangerous pet equation. First of all, they're strong enough to kill you without any problems at all if they ever decide to. Secondly, they're close enough to humans that they end up in a weird behavioral zone. A tiger, for example, is generally going to have the wit to know a handler isn't another tiger. A chimpanzee raised with humans might not (and who could blame it?) and this leads to all kinds of ugly situations - chimpanzees challenging humans for dominance, chimpanzees attempting to compete with humans for mates, etc. Finally, the chimpanzee is not an animal that should domesticate well. They're highly intelligent omnivores who hunt other primates. A bear, generally speaking, is not going to see you as food. If the chimp doesn't see you as another chimp (which is disastrous on its own), he probably is going to see you as food; and in all sincerity you'd have better odds trying to fight off that bear if the chimp decides to go at it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:26 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Everything I've seen seems to indicate that they have a much higher bone density, which is why they have no bouyancy at all and sink like a rock in water.
Some less reputable stuff I saw on the net also claims it has to do with relative arm length and the position of the elbow, which affects the torque the muscles can produce.
posted by nightchrome at 9:30 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just jawing out loud here, but I'm also thinking that the staggering strength of the chimp (and apes and monkeys in general), on such a relatively compact frame would be an evolutionary response to living in such a dense environment (the jungle, or rainforest, places not really conductive to running around on two big lanky legs, and certainly not four [hence no giraffes in the rainforest]), but needing to get to places that are really high. It's tricky to climb anything using your legs because you get to a point where they're not going to increase your elevation much: arms are a far superior climbing tool. And considering it gets so busy on the floor of a jungle, it makes sense to swing through the branches rather than jog along on the ground.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:35 PM on February 18, 2009

Which is all, uhh, pretty fucking obvious now that I've typed it out. Don't mind me, I'm on my way to page 10!
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:36 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Eminent primatologist and chimp politics expert Frans de Waal explains Travis's attack:
Without going into the details of how well the chimp knew the human visitor, or what the effect may have been of the Xanax in his tea, we should consider that this was a 15-year-old male. This is precisely the age at which males begin to domineer females of their species and challenge more established males. If you have ever seen male chimps work on their status it is obvious that they are real risk-takers, employing their considerable strength to move up and not caring one bit about the injuries they may incur. Travis was a time bomb waiting to be set off.
de Waal on chimp strength, from the same article:
What makes apes so strong? Muscle density may be part of the answer, which would also explain why apes can't swim: they lack buoyancy. The pound-for-pound output power of ape muscles is estimated to be twice that of our own species.
Other reasons for chimps' comparative strength:
The most striking difference between the chimpanzee and human shoulder is in the proportions of the scapula. Human arm strength, much less powerful in movements when in a raised position, is reflected in the shape of the scapula that provides attachment surfaces and lever arms for muscles....

[. . . .]
The chimpanzee distal humerus contrasts with the human. The human lacks the robust lateral supracondylar ridge, a high and robust lateral epicondyle, and the steep, sharp, lateral margin of the olecranon fossa . The chimpanzee forearm is relatively long in comparison to humans . Chimp radius and ulna are more curved than in humans and the chimpanzee distal radius has a radiocarpal joint surface that diverges medially. The major differences between human and chimpanzee limbs are contrasts in relative proportion. Chimpanzees have large powerful arms, slightly longer than their very short legs. Human arms are about 70% as long as human legs.

[. . . .]
Brachiation (arm swinging) is a special form of locomotion in which the body is suspended below branches. It allows utilization of small branches near the fringe of a tree canopy since the brachiator is suspended beneath its handholds. In contrast, a large bodied quadruped that tries to walk on a small branch has difficulty balancing as the supporting tree limb bends. A brachiator can easily exploit the very fringe of a tree canopy by dispersing its weight to the ends of several branches. New World brachiators use their prehensile tail as a fifth prehensile limb to further disperse weight. Most rapid brachiation is attained by using gravity to convert vertical height to speed. IM index is 100 or above.

Brachiation generally is associated with major alterations in the arm, hand, and thorax. The shoulder joint is positioned laterally and cranially on a barrel-shaped thorax. Robust muscles attach to the sternum, vertebral column, head, and rib cage, stabilizing the shoulder. The more powerful the arm movements, the more robust the stabilizing musculature must be. The clavicle acts a strut to stabilize the shoulder joint against a sternum whose segments unite to form a single bone. This clavicular-sternal joint is very strong and is not easily dislocated. A relatively round head of the humerus reflects a very wide range of motion. Additional elbow strength results from a more distinct separation of the radius and ulna on the articular surfaces of the distal humerus. The olecranon process of the ulna is small, allowing full extension of robust forearms. Brachiators tend to have reduced thumbs. If a thumb is present, it is folded out of the way against the palm where it does not interfere with elongated fingers that hook or snag handholds. The lumbar region of the vertebral column is shortened and stabilized, and a very mobile hip joint allows the foot to grasp anchorage in a wide range of positions.

There are several types of brachiators. Gibbons and siamangs, who use arm swinging as a major means of travel, are the best brachiators. Chimpanzee, gorillas, and humans are capable of this type of brachiation, but do not practice it as a primary means of locomotion.
The muscular and skeletal anatomy of the joints, such as the shoulder, differs between humans and chimps. Chimps are much stronger for their size than humans, and they commonly use their arms for locomotion, both on the ground and in trees, obviously unlike humans. The chimps scapula has larger depressions, or fossae, which allow the attachment of the large muscles used for climbing.

The long bones also differ between the two species. Humans have much longer legs than chimps, thereby having femurs (thigh bones) which are much longer than the humeri (upper arm bones). These two bones are nearly the same length in the chimpanzee. The chimp radius is relatively longer, compared to the humerus, than it is in humans. Except for the radius and ulna, the arm bones are heavier in chimps, whereas their leg bones are more slender than human bones.
posted by orthogonality at 9:41 PM on February 18, 2009 [10 favorites]

How many times does this have to happen before people stop deciding wild animal "pets" are a good idea? How many Texas toddlers have to be eaten by stupid uncles' tigers? There's just no ambiguity, here: a pet chimpanzee is always, always, always a bad idea. lKSjdfkldsjfkdjfklsdjfkdfj
posted by Neofelis at 9:46 PM on February 18, 2009

Thanks, guys! I appreciate it! (now I don't have to use an AskMe question)
posted by jason's_planet at 9:58 PM on February 18, 2009

The human lacks the robust lateral supracondylar ridge...

Uhh, my lateral supracondylar ridge is perfectly robust, thanks for asking.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:59 PM on February 18, 2009

From another mauling in Connecticut:

Ms. Nash’s injuries were so horrific — Ms. Herold told a 911 dispatcher that her pet was eating Ms. Nash — that the hospital was providing counseling to the staff members who treated her. Mr. Orstad said some members of the team that initially treated Ms. Nash had already sought counseling.

“Members of the staff have said this is something they’ve never experienced in their career,” Mr. Orstad said. “This is definitely the most unique case the hospital has seen in quite some time.”

posted by jason's_planet at 10:20 PM on February 18, 2009

I saw a sort of news report about the Chimp Attack in the second video, it was speculated that the chimps that attacked the guy had a specific reason for really disliking that specific person, and they were supposedly really nice to other people.

Horrible idea: Keep a chimp as a pet, but keep it drudged so that it's not strong enough to hurt you.
posted by delmoi at 10:25 PM on February 18, 2009

Anyone who is dumb enough to have a pet chimp should be forced to watch this Attenborough video of chimpanzees eating a colobus monkey alive [graphic].
Contrast that reality with the idiocy that surrounds Michael Jackson with his pet Bubbles or with the Trunk Monkey (that's tecnically a Trunk Ape).
I'm a primatologist and chimps terrify me.
posted by bergeycm at 10:26 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

My friend grew up as a child with a chimpanzee that was treated, for all intents and purposes, as a member of the family. Once the chimp reached the equivalent of puberty things started getting awkward (public masturbation, aggressive behaviour) and they had to turn the chimp over to those who could care for it properly.
posted by furtive at 10:27 PM on February 18, 2009

Cecil Adams:
It's a lot easier to get a chimp in roller skates than it is to get him to pump iron — hence, most of the data on chimp strength is anecdotal and decidedly unscientific. In tests at the Bronx Zoo in 1924, a dynamometer — a scale that measures the mechanical force of a pull on a spring — was erected in the monkey house. A 165-pound male chimpanzee named "Boma" registered a pull of 847 pounds, using only his right hand (although he did have his feet braced against the wall, being somewhat hip, in his simian way, to the principles of leverage). A 165-pound man, by comparison, could manage a one-handed pull of about 210 pounds. Even more frightening, a female chimp, weighing a mere 135 pounds and going by the name of Suzette, checked in with a one-handed pull of 1,260 pounds. (She was in a fit of passion at the time; one shudders to think what her boyfriend must have looked like next morning.) In dead lifts, chimps have been known to manage weights of 600 pounds without even breaking into a sweat. A male gorilla could probably heft an 1,800-pound weight and not think twice about it.
posted by metaplectic at 10:40 PM on February 18, 2009

When I was a kid we used to visit relatives in a seaside town in Canada. These relatives had a beautiful house on a large acreage that sloped down towards an escarpment. There was a bamboo thicket and thick bushes at the top of the cliff, but I liked to go down to the edge of the property because you could see the ocean, hear and catch a glimpse of freight trains that traveled along the shore about 100 feet below the lookout.

Anyway, I was there one day (I must have been around six years old) and I saw this dark shape moving through the trees. It was a chimpanzee. It crossed the path about 50 feet in front of me and disappeared into the woods.

I ran up and told everyone what I saw, and they actually believed me. They phoned the police, who came and searched the property. Eventually they found the chimp a few houses down. It was the pet of a visiting movie star that had escaped.

It has always been a fond, dreamlike memory for me. Until this thread.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:58 PM on February 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

When I was vacationing in Thailand about 20 years ago, I was in a busy restaurant that had a small monkey chained to a perch in the corner. I felt sorry for it and went over to give it some attention. I fed it a treat of some sort from my table and allowed it to perch on my shoulder. Then it shoved its fingers into my eye sockets, driving my lids deep into the space between my eyeballs and eyebrows. It wrapped it's legs around my neck and started humping the back of my head, coming before I was able to tear it off.

I came to realize that having a monkey for a pet would be as much fun as taking care of an incontinent, criminally insane person.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:58 PM on February 18, 2009 [50 favorites]

"It has always been a fond, dreamlike memory for me. Until this thread."

Ok, cards on the table. True story.

When I was a kid, maybe six years old, or a little younger, we got front row tickets to the Ice Capades. Probably through a politician my Dad had done work for, possibly in lieu of cash payment from some candidate who lost the primary and thus couldn't pay his debts.

Ice Capades had a skating chimp. Just like that: it wore silver skates and a fluffy pink tutu, and it skated -- fast! -- around and around and around the rink.

Really fast. It skated around and around in circles, faster and faster, and then it skated -- really fast -- right up to me in my front row, on the ice seat.

And then that skating chimp... punched. me. A lightening quick right fist, right to my stomach. Knocked the wind out of me, knocked me out of my seat. And then just as quickly, that bastard chimp in his frilly pink tutu and silver skates, turned around and skated away.

(My next childhood memory: called up to the stage to pick from a hat the name of the child to win a $100 spending spree at the toy store, I reach in and pick out my own name.)
posted by orthogonality at 11:12 PM on February 18, 2009 [26 favorites]

Just one more point about the strength of chimpanzees and gorillas: besides having bigger, denser muscles, much thicker and stronger bones, and more attachments for those muscles, they get a lot of leverage from the
way the muscle wraps around the ends of their bones.

Imagine a triangle sitting on its base. The hypotenuse is the bone, the sides are the muscle wrapped over the end of the bone. Humans have a very low triangle, like half of a long skinny rectangle, with the sum of the sides hardly more than the base. In apes, the triangle's peak is higher and offset from the base. Basically, they get a pulley-type effect in their muscles. The thicker bones and stronger attachments allow the increased tension in the muscles.

At some point in our evolutions our ancestors might have had more strength like this also. Why did we lose it? Perhaps the neoteny that led to larger crania and smaller jaws also decreased our robustness.
posted by Araucaria at 11:17 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by Deathalicious at 11:50 PM on February 18, 2009

Charla Nash lost eyes, nose and jaw in chimpanzee attack.

Apparently the chimp was suffering from Lyme disease.
posted by metaplectic at 12:02 AM on February 19, 2009

Residents Shocked By Brutal Chimp Attack
"He bit both of her hands off," said Herold's friend, Lynn Mecca. "The cop said he was eating … it’s terrible. I don’t want to talk about it."
Experts try to explain pet chimp’s rampage
But Travis was acting “rambunctious” Monday afternoon. Herold reportedly said she thought it may have been a reaction to medication he was taking for Lyme disease. She gave him some tea with Xanax in it, but the potion failed to calm the animal down.
posted by metaplectic at 12:13 AM on February 19, 2009

I know this is a horrible thought, but I find myself thinking that it would be better for her if she died. What kind of life is there ahead of her, blind and horribly disfigured?

The owner will be facing criminal charges, I think and hope. The precedent has long been established by cases of pit-bull attacks: the owner of a dangerous animal is responsible for what that animal does. (In some cases where pit-bulls have killed, the owners have been charged with manslaughter.)

If this poor woman does live, the chimp's owner will still face charges for the horrible mutilation she's suffered.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:19 AM on February 19, 2009

Known side effects of Xanax:

depressed mood, drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, unsteadiness and impaired coordination, vertigo, skin rash, respiratory disturbance, sleep disorders, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger (increased risk taking behavior), rage, hostility
thoughts of suicide or self harm
urinating less than usual or not at all
ataxia, slurred speech
short term memory loss and impairment of memory functions
anterograde amnesia and concentration problems
decreased or increased sex drive
dry mouth
increase in appetite
muscle twitching and tremor
mania, agitation, hyperactivity and restlessness
posted by metaplectic at 12:19 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Out of the corner of her eye, LaDonna suddenly noticed a large form about forty feet away. It was a chimpanzee, a young adult male, somehow out of his cage, and he was glaring at her. The chimp held her gaze for a moment, and then charged. St. James rushed to his wife. The animal barreled into LaDonna's back, knocking her into St. James. She wrapped her arms around her husband's neck, but the chimpanzee locked his jaws around the thumb of her left hand. With a single, ferocious jerk of his neck, he tore it off.

St. James threw his hysterical wife under the picnic table and pushed her further underneath as the chimp tried to pursue her. LaDonna was screaming commands — "No! Stop! Sit!" — in a desperate bid to stop him. The remaining cake was on the table, still in its box, but the chimp didn't go for it. Instead he went after St. James.

As St. James confronted the chimp, the six-two former running back turned to find a second chimp — also a male, this one older and bigger — bearing down on him as well. With both hands, he pushed the bigger animal. Both chimps pounced. One of the animals grabbed him in a bear hug before chomping into the bone above his right eyebrow. He then stuck his finger in St. James's right eye, gouging it out. The same animal clamped his teeth onto St. James's nose, biting it off, as the other chimp chewed away at St. James's fingers. In the melee, one of the chimps dug in his claws and ripped the skin off the right side of St. James's face, causing it to flop over and cover his left eye, temporarily blinding him. One of the primates sunk his teeth into St. James's skull. He then closed his jaws on St. James's mouth, ripping off his lips and most of his teeth. St. James tried to put one of his hands down the animal's throat, but the chimp just kept chewing on it and chewing on it, and he couldn't get it out.

St. James fell to the ground, no longer able to defend himself, and for at least five minutes, the mauling continued as he lay helpless. One of the chimps gnawed on his buttocks and bit off his genitals. They ravaged his left foot, leaving it shredded. Blood poured from his body, and LaDonna was screaming. It looked as if they were eating him alive. Finally, LaDonna's screams drew the owners' son-in-law, Mark Carruthers, who came running armed with a .45-caliber revolver. After struggling to find a clean shot, he opened fire on the younger primate. The shot had no apparent effect, and Carruthers raced back to his house, a few dozen yards away, to reload with more-powerful ammunition. When Carruthers returned, he focused on the older male, the prime aggressor. Kneeling down, he shot him once in the head from close range. As the animal fell to the ground, the younger chimp began dragging St. James's mutilated body down a hill leading away from Moe's cage. Dirt filled St. James's lungs and seeped into his bloody openings.

Never trust a monkey.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:31 AM on February 19, 2009 [6 favorites]

This is why I look askance at the Pete Singers of the world suggesting we ought to free chimps from zoos and let them live amongst us.

Chimps are at least as nasty as humans. Maybe even nastier.
posted by rodgerd at 12:46 AM on February 19, 2009

"Chimps are at least as nasty as humans. Maybe even nastier."

Same passions, same emotions, same greed. But less planning. There are no chimpanzee King Leopolds, no chimp Dachaus.
posted by orthogonality at 1:06 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

suggesting we ought to free chimps from zoos and let them live amongst us.

Live amongst us? I don't think people are suggesting we just open all the zoo cages all over the world and let the animals walk out into the shopping districts and residential neighborhoods of town to fend for themselves. Did you really read anything like that anywhere? Freeing a chimp would mean returning it to its natural habitat and, logically, protecting that habitat from human encroachment.

Or maybe I'm missing your joke. As a joke, it just needs a tweak or two to make it pretty funny.
posted by pracowity at 1:35 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Chimps may be unsuitable as pets, but you haven't lived (and nearly died) until you've had an orangutan. It's a clip from a radio show about a guy who bought an orangutan as a pet after watching Every Which Way But Loose, things don't go as planned.
posted by bjrn at 2:09 AM on February 19, 2009

metapletic: Thanks for that. I was going to point out that xanax isn't exactly a tranquilizer or sedative, even though most people seem to ab/use them as though they were.

The first time I ever heard of Xanax was when a friend of a friend came over and gave one to my roommate. Which was all fine and good, except for the fact that said roommate had been under a lot of stress and anxiety due to a real piece of shit bully who also happened to be couch-surfing with us.

That evening did not go well at all, but all in all it ended well.

Said roommate flipped his wig, the floodgates of anxiety and inhibition totally gone, and went after the bully son of a bitch houseguest with a baseball bat and he very nearly got a serious ass-whooping from the bastard houseguest with the very same bat. Thankfully (or woefully) I'd been waiting for just this kind of altercation and confrontation for weeks and I was already on springs because nice roommate was neither very large or anything resembling a fighter, while bastard houseguest was fresh out of a 2-3 year visit to prison and liked to (pretend to) work out a lot - and, well, I'd wanted a reason to take out the trash for a while, so I did.*

Interestingly this same evening was the first time I heard about the book Chimpanzee Politics. Which is exactly what was going on. Oook. Oook. Oook.

*As most of my non-verbal communications tend to go I never even actually hit the fucker, but the fifteen seconds or so where I was begging him to give me a good reason to hit him as I had him pinned to the wall (By his head. With his feet off the ground.) were probably a lot scarier to him and kinder to my delicate hands and mostly gentle, peaceful spirit, anyway and as a whole a lot more effective. He moved out that very hour. Because I told him to.
posted by loquacious at 2:50 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Things that can kill you are only pets as long as they decide to be.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:53 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, if you're reading this Mr. R. Williams - you're missed by myself and others, my elfin-hippy photography friend and brother. My email is in my profile. And re: digital photography - I told you so. Sorry about that. I hope you've been able to still find work you enjoy.

Re-railing to the topic - I held a chimpanzee's hand once but briefly at a shelter. Allow me to confirm that chimpanzees are incredibly strong. My first thought was "Oh, great, this chimp is going to tear off my arm and beat me to death with it." but it was just being friendly and saying hello. I can't imagine what a pissed off one is capable of.

Having one as a pet - much less drugging it with a psychoactive pharmaceutical - has never, ever crossed my mind before or since.
posted by loquacious at 2:58 AM on February 19, 2009

How has Jane Goodall lived for 45 years among chimpanzees in the wild without anything awful happening to her? I realize that she is the world's greatest chimpanzee expert and probably knows the body language better than many chimpanzees do, but that doesn't mean she can reason with large crazed chimpanzees, and she must have run into a few over the decades. Is it that she is just really good at never being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or does a really big chimpanzee have her back?
posted by pracowity at 4:23 AM on February 19, 2009

How has Jane Goodall lived for 45 years among chimpanzees in the wild without anything awful happening to her?

One theory.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:56 AM on February 19, 2009

There was a book on carnivals and carny culture, I think it was this one, that had a chapter on a fighting chimp. My memory of it, over thirty years later, include the complete shock the tuff guys had at getting their asses whipped by the little guy. They put a football helmet on the chimp; people thought that was to keep the chimp from getting hurt, but the owner was missing a couple of fingers...
posted by dragonsi55 at 4:57 AM on February 19, 2009

It has always been a fond, dreamlike memory for me. Until this thread.

Welcome to the Internet, where I remember your memories better than you remember your memories.
posted by dgaicun at 4:57 AM on February 19, 2009

I came to realize that having a monkey for a pet would be as much fun as taking care of an incontinent, criminally insane person.

My first job out of college was operating a group home for 8 mentally retarded, schizophrenic adults. The technical term for the incident you described in that line of work would be: Tuesday.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:59 AM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

All jokes aside, it looks like Gary Larson was a victim, too: In 1988 Larson visited Gombe Streams National Park and was attacked by Frodo, a chimp described by Goodall as a "bully". Larson escaped with cuts and bruises.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:00 AM on February 19, 2009

Holy fucking quotes, ortho & ambrosia.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:05 AM on February 19, 2009

Ech, nevermind, KokuRyu. I thought you were saying that this thread ignited a memory you hadn't had since childhood. I thought I was pulling a gotchaz there. I see now you just mean it revised how you think about the old magical memory.... since it could have gone apeshit and eaten off your genitals and all.

So... I've been waiting a year... are you going to answer my question yet?
posted by dgaicun at 5:10 AM on February 19, 2009

How has Jane Goodall lived for 45 years among chimpanzees in the wild without anything awful happening to her?

Maybe not as awful as what happened in Stamford, but Goodall still got caught up in primate politics at the hands of one troop's alpha male, the aforementioned Frodo, Exhibit A in the "Demonic Male" hypothesis: "Frodo singled me out, none of us know why, but from very early on he singled me out and he didn’t just push me over he would come back and then stamp on me again, maybe three times in a row, and sometimes drag me. He’s dragged other people, he’s stamped on other people but he has a special expression on his face for me, we’ve all noticed it, and we don’t know why." After one particularly violent thrashing - in which he nearly broke Goodall's neck - she decided never to venture into to his territory without body guards. For truly horrific behavior (at least horrific to us), Frodo assaulted a young local mother who strayed into his territory at the preserve, kidnapping, killing, and eating her infant daughter. Human babies are no different as "bush meat" to a chimpanzee than the other monkey babies that chimps have been observed to hunt for food, of course, but Frodo seemed to have a genuinely sadistic streak.

Her colleague De Waal has an even bleaker view of our primate cousin's potential motives: "You can not have cruelty in creatures that don’t have empathy. Ironically enough, for example a shark can do a lot of damage, it can hurt you very terribly, but I don’t, don’t think a shark can be cruel, it doesn’t have the brains to understand what the effect is of its actions. Now chimpanzees do have that kind of understanding. Chimpanzees have empathy and sympathy and so as a result they can also inflict pain on purpose I think." Reconciling the chimpanzee's deep sense of empathy with their almost unique practice of going to war (unique in mammals besides us) appears to be one of the hardest philosophical tasks for anthropologists.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:37 AM on February 19, 2009 [10 favorites]

Chimpanzees don't make good pets

All available evidence says this is true, but my heart says otherwise.
posted by diogenes at 6:10 AM on February 19, 2009

This thread is scary. I'll second the thoughts above: why on earth would you want a low intelligence (relative to humans), high maintenance, animal whose natural instinct is to dominate and kill or injure rivals. I mean, I'm John Gotti had a tender side if you got to know him, but you'd think twice about letting him babysit the kids.

In the absence of kittens to derail this thread into something you could read while both eating and holding down your lunch, how about a cute, housetrained fox?
posted by MuffinMan at 6:27 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is why I look askance at the Pete Singers of the world suggesting we ought to free chimps from zoos and let them live amongst us.

This is a pretty weird comment that bears no relation to anything Peter Singer has said on the subject. If it's a joke, I don't get it.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:48 AM on February 19, 2009

In order to save chimpanzees from extinction, I propose we selectively breed a non-violent domesticated variety of chimp to serve as the new house pet of the 21st century. Soon there will be millions of chimps in North America alone.

Tame, servile domesticated chimps can be trained to cook, clean, and care for infants, freeing up husbands and wives for more important tasks, such as working and having sex. Thus chimp pets will also save the American economy and the marital institution.
posted by fucker at 6:49 AM on February 19, 2009

In 1947, Robert A. Heinlein wrote a story about genetically manipulated chimps and their quest to be considered human called "Jerry Was a Man". Reading this story as a kid made me wonder for the first time just how close to humans the other great apes really are. The following story goes a long way toward answering that question.

Stan Burns and Mike Marmer created Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp in the early 70's, a kid's show that starred an all chimp cast. They tell the story that because there was a concern about the males "interacting" with the female chimps, a vet was brought in to castrate all the males before production began.

Because the show was so expensive, the TV network suits decided to pay their first visit to the set about a year after production began. As they were getting out of their limo, the same vet that did the operations happened to be walking across the lot just as the chimps were being led back to their cages. The chimp that played Lance spied his nemesis, broke away from his handlers, climbed a fence, and ran down the screaming, running vet. Pouncing on the man, Lance took him down and proceeded to bite him repeatedly on the back, both ape and human screaming all the while.

Without a word, the suits got back in the limo, drove away, and never came back.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:51 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pray for Mojo.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:14 AM on February 19, 2009

Today's Post cover
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:54 AM on February 19, 2009

I always root for the animal.....
posted by xjudson at 7:55 AM on February 19, 2009

a horrible story
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:31 AM on February 19

holy shit
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:06 AM on February 19, 2009

Today's Post cover

Always a class act, that Rupert Murdoch.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:10 AM on February 19, 2009

Anyone remember the Memphis nurse who was fired after performing CPR (unsuccessfully) on a monkey at a non-veterinary hospital? I wonder if she's glad now that she still has a face. Me, I've got other fears...
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:18 AM on February 19, 2009

Based on the interview I saw on NBC, this Herold woman didn't show as much remorse for the woman who was attacked (and mutilated) as she did for the chimp. It was also reported that she slept with him at night. There is no doubt in my mind she'll try to have another chimp as a "pet" if she can.
posted by tommasz at 8:43 AM on February 19, 2009

Goodall has documented a case of two female chimps, a mother and her adult daughter, who on several occasions stole a chimpanzee baby from its mother, then killed and ate that baby.

In other words, deliberate cannibalism.

One reason Goodall has been able to survive 45 years watching the chimps is that she understands what this woman in NY apparently doesn't: they're wild animals and they're dangerous.

Goodall hasn't fallen for the "noble savage" fallacy.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:00 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

To paraphrase Chris Rock talking about the Siegfried and Roy face-eating incident: That chimp didn't go crazy. That chimp went chimp.

See also the last three minutes of the Planet Earth "Jungles" episode.
posted by kosem at 9:30 AM on February 19, 2009

Xanax. Wine. Give that ape an autopsy and send that woman away if they find anything in his blood.
posted by pracowity at 9:41 AM on February 19, 2009

I know this is a horrible thought, but I find myself thinking that it would be better for her if she died.

It may be a horrible thought, but it's exactly what I've been thinking too. Imagine waking up and discovering you have no face and no hands. Personally, I don't think I'd have the strength to deal with it. I've been obsessing so much about this poor woman that my husband made me promise that if a monkey ever chews my face off, I'll wait a year before taking any drastic measures.

This story has got me all kinds of upset - for the woman who was attacked, for the chimp, and maybe even the tiniest bit for the owner. I've seen her on TV, and I think she's probably certifiably insane at worst and a deluded idiot at best, but her husband died a few years ago and then her daughter died in a car crash. That chimp was it for her.

Please understand that I'm in no way advocating keeping chimps as pets or condoning her treatment of the chimp, but it's such a bad situation - I've got enough sympathy to go around.
posted by Evangeline at 11:39 AM on February 19, 2009

That chimp was it for her.

Not only that, but she had to stab it repeatedly with a butcher knife. If I had a dog and it went rabid, I don't know that I could stab it.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:01 PM on February 19, 2009

We should make sure this lady never hooks up with the Octomom, the critical mass of borderline personality disorder selfish dingbattedness will probably break the seventh seal and unleash a gibbering army of IVF bred Face Eating Hell Apes on us.

Anyone who has ever seen live primates in a zoo or elsewhere and isn't incredibly wary of them has to be fucking nuts.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:25 PM on February 19, 2009

So... I've been waiting a year... are you going to answer my question yet?

KokuRyu: It turns out a starlet was visiting the beachside town where my aunt lived, and was staying next door. The dark, furry shape was her Bonobo chimpanzee.

Question: What starlet?

Answer: I just don't know. Most of the adults there have passed away, although I suppose my parents might remember.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:03 PM on February 19, 2009

Well, now we know:

posted by Hovercraft Eel at 1:25 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

There are no chimpanzee King Leopolds, no chimp Dachaus.

You might want to look at those stories about Frodo down from your comment; chimps certainly do plan and execute genocidal wars on other primates (including other chimps).

Moreover, chimps haven't come up with courts, or monogamy, or any of the other things we've invented to try and create a life less red in tooth and claw.
posted by rodgerd at 1:26 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

I know this is a horrible thought, but I find myself thinking that it would be better for her if she died.

It may be a horrible thought, but it's exactly what I've been thinking too. Imagine waking up and discovering you have no face and no hands. Personally, I don't think I'd have the strength to deal with it. I've been obsessing so much about this poor woman that my husband made me promise that if a monkey ever chews my face off, I'll wait a year before taking any drastic measures.

The victim still has her hands, and might be in line for a new face, given where she's been transferred...

(Still horrifying)
posted by availablelight at 4:50 PM on February 19, 2009

I keep reading conflicting reports about the victim's hands. In some reports they were chewed off, in others some of her fingers were bitten off, and I've also read the account in your link above. I hope it's closest to the truth.

And I hope she does get that face transplant, and I hope the results are so good she won't be ashamed to go outside. Of course a lot of people are horrified by this event, but I simply can't stop thinking about it.
posted by Evangeline at 5:22 PM on February 19, 2009

Ambrosia, that story (from Esquire) absolutely knocked the shit out of me. I think it's close to being one of the worst I ever heard, too. Everyone needs to go and read it, right now.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:21 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

So chimps that get pissed at other primates like to chew off hands faces, and genitals. I can't help thinking about mirror neurons and the Penfield homunculus; that is, they go after the not the largest body features, but the ones that have the most brain devoted to them, the ones that are therefore largest in our self-concept as primates. (Though I imagine a chimp's homunculus devotes less area to lips than does a human's, given that chimps don't talk.)
posted by orthogonality at 8:41 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

knowing what xanax can do to regular ...ok...what xanax can do to humans who take it

what kind of a retard do you have to be to give a drug that has mood altering side effects to a simian whose suffering with a degenerative and PAINFUL disease like Lyme.

this was just a recipe for disaster.
posted by duality at 11:38 PM on February 19, 2009

More from the NYT.
posted by availablelight at 3:32 PM on February 26, 2009

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