News from the Natural World: “Why am I still locked in a cage?” asks Chimpanzee granted human rights.
Last year a Chimpanzee at the Bronx Zoo named Claudia became the first Chimp to self identify as a human being. We followed her journey as the first animal to deliberately self identify as another species. We wanted to see how Claudia’s bravery would impact other Chimpanzees on planet earth and whether it might help them. This is because all around the world her species is persecuted and threatened by human expansion. But Humans and Chimpanzees are startlingly similar. In fact, they share 98.6% of their DNA with the most violent Great Ape. So Claudia knew what she had to do, she decided she would self identify as a human. Thus elevating her status and enshrining her right to life. But one year on Claudia was still as frustrated as ever. We set off back to the Bronx Zoo to find out why.
When we arrived we found Claudia sitting in the corner of her cage. She looked despondent and fatigued. We asked how things had been going for Claudia;
“It’s not been great, to be honest. I was granted human rights and there was a huge fanfare. I got lots of attention in the media and lots of humans showed up. But after a while, it seemed that this media attention only really served to sell more toys in the Bronx Zoo. It didn’t help me. I was still locked in this cage. I thought maybe the pandemic would change things. It was only since lockdown that humans had been forced to feel the claustrophobic isolation of confinement. I thought they might be able to imagine what it felt like to be confined by four walls. Your mind eroding and vestigial memories of freedom haunting you. But yet, they still refuse to release me from my cage.”
“Why am I Still Locked in a Cage?”
Claudia was really hitting her stride now “If they grant me and other Great Apes human rights then how can they continue to hold us in these cages? How can they continue to justify using us to entertain human tourists? We chimps know that the fight for conservation and the saviour of our species is happening where we are from. The charities and NGOs helping on the ground all across western and central Africa. Locking me up in the Bronx Zoo helps no one, least of all me. I wish I could understand what motivated these humans.”
We managed to corner one of the head honchos at the Bronx Zoo and asked them if Claudia was granted human rights then why was she still being held against her will? The head honcho responded, “Hey, look here, we’ve got a gift shop full to the brim and those toys won’t sell themselves!”
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