Monday, May 3, 2010

Susan Savage-Rumbaugh on apes

By Joe A.

Susan Savage and her team of researchers have done the impossible, they created a new culture out of a old species. They have taught bonobo apes to understand the English language and use everyday devices such as scissors, lighters, musical instruments, and even video games. The apes are very social with each other and humans alike because of the relationship many evolutionist believe we have with them.

Dr. Susan Savage-Rumbaugh is a scientist with special standing at Great Ape Trust of Iowa – a world-class research center dedicated to studying the behaviour and intelligence of great apes. She is the first and only scientist to conduct language research with bonobos. The bonobos are not in many zoos due to their sexuality, as most zoologists believe they would make the visitors uncomfortable. The apes have very similar stature to us and walk mainly on their hind legs unlike most other primates. She has been focusing her work on one bonobo named Klanzi. He is the most intelligent ape as he can comprehend the English language. They teach the apes by example, for they learn the best by physically seeing what is asked of them. One Bonobo observed a researcher cut the fur of its baby with a pair of scissors, so the mother stole the scissors and her offspring and started to cut the fur with the scissors. This just goes to show how observant and intelligent these animals truly are.

The bonobos live in Georgia and they are kept in a compound were they interact with many other apes and humans. The researchers show them different things and almost every time they see something new they are interested. Susan Savage does believe that there is hope for the bonobos to be treated as equals. She, along with many others, does believe that we have evolved from apes but maybe we have just developed faster. This talk could be used to prove to people apes are our ancestors because it shows how much alike we are physically and mentally. Like humans the bonobos have morals and respect for others and the bonobos show this same respect to people and other species. However I don’t believe that humans and the bonobos will ever be equals. Yes they are extremely smart species but if they are still a few million years behind us in eveloution I think they will always remain a primate.

The Bonobos are quite amazing animals and they have came a long way from being just another primate. They are great evidence of evolution and what even our human ancestors might have looked and acted like. As for someday us being equals with them, this does seem very far fetched because of their low population and lack of technology.

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