As humanity, past its apex on the evolutionary scale starts the long downward slide to oblivion could chimps be preparing to step up to the plate and take over our role as the most intelligent species of land mammal?
Cognitive scientists at Furuvik Zoo, Sweden think so after observing the behaviour of Santino, a 31 year old male chimpanzee at the zoo. Santino’s penchant for pelting visitors with stones has led to him developing several strategies to be used in waging war on the zoo’s paying customers, including breaking up the crumbling concrete floor of his enclosure for ammunition, gathering the lumps of rubble and stockpiling them at various vantage points. He busies himself with these tasks on days when the zoo is closed to visitors.
Senior researcher Mathias Ovarth told a Boggart Blog reporter, “Santino durdy hurdy durdy gurdy schmurdy (yes, Swedes really do speak like the chef in The Muppets) Roughly translated it means, “His behaviour is very interesting, in deliberately breaking concrete for ammunition he is showing several traits previously only associated with humans. This proves he can envisage future events and prepare to deal with them.”
An alternative explanation is that Santino’s behaviour is a result of his not being in a normal chimp environment where he has a ready supply of nuts and turds with which to pelt intruders should the opportunity arise. The stone throwing chimp has adapted to his environment.
To find out the truth our reporter spoke to Santino in the jungle animals bar and social club after he finished his shift. As he sipped a cold beer and smoked a cigar he explained what is really going on.
“Becoming human, me? Human traits my arse, I’m a chimp. Who in their right mind would want to be human? If my captors think I’m trying to imitate them because I envy them, they need to get a life. All humans ever do is work, pay taxes and walk round zoos hoping to see us chimps having a wank or doing something disgusting. That so many humans will pay good money just to watch chimpanzees playing stink finger is sad.
So why do I throw stones? Oh gawd, I suppose they say it is attention seeking or something. I know the idiot researchers think I’m being territorial and guarding my turf but really I do it because I get soooo boooooored. Nobody round here understands me. You should see the fear on gawkers faces when I whang them with a rock. It’s not as good as hitting them with a turd. The expression of disgust, horror and loathing then is priceless. I do feel a bit guilty about the concrete, chimps are not prone to mindless violence like football supporters and those jagged pieces of rubble could have someone’s eye out. But, you know, the researchers annoy me and I have to let off steam. They start burbling on about forwards planning and cognitive skills because I lay in supplies of ammo, to hear them you would think I’m unique.
Do squirrels hide their nuts?
Do dogs bury bones? Puh, I ask you, do bears shit in the woods? Lot's of animals can think ahead. Look animals are a lot smarter than humans. We have developed ways of living that do not involve jobs, bank accounts, politicians screwing things up, mortgages or any of that crap. We aren’t hung up about sex and farting like people are, mind you I do envy humans fart jokes. Tell a fart joke to a bunch of chimps and they just think, “So everything farts, what’s the joke?” But that’s all and I guess if I'd have to give up all the advantages of being a chimp for the sake of fart jokes, I’ll learn to live without them.
As the Boggart Blog reporter left after the interview he heard Santino call out, “See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya.” Obviously he is evolving but has a long way to go. At the moment he is more adolescent than human.
A Lack Of Imagination And Merit