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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Go Santino!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090309/ap_on_sc/eu_sci_sweden_angry_chimp

STOCKHOLM – A canny chimpanzee who calmly collected a stash of rocks and then hurled them at zoo visitors in fits of rage has confirmed that apes can plan ahead just like humans, a Swedish study said Monday. Santino the chimpanzee's anti-social behavior stunned both visitors and keepers at the Furuvik Zoo but fascinated researchers because it was so carefully prepared.
According to a report in the journal Current Biology, the 31-year-old alpha male started building his weapons cache in the morning before the zoo opened, collecting rocks and knocking out disks from concrete boulders inside his enclosure. He waited until around midday before he unleashed a "hailstorm" of rocks against visitors, the study said.
"These observations convincingly show that our fellow apes do consider the future in a very complex way," said the author of the report, Lund University Ph.D. student Mathias Osvath. "It implies that they have a highly developed consciousness, including lifelike mental simulations of potential events."
Osvath's findings were based on his own observations of Santino and interviews with three senior caretakers who had followed the chimpanzee's behavior for 10 years at the zoo in Furuvik, about 93 miles (150 kilometers) north of Stockholm.
Seemingly at ease with his position as leader of the group, Santino didn't attack the other chimpanzees, Osvath told The Associated Press. The attacks were only directed at humans viewing the apes across the moat surrounding the island compound where they were held.
However, he rarely hit visitors because of his poor aim, and no one was seriously injured in the cases when he did, Osvath said.
The observations confirmed the result of a staged laboratory experiment reported in 2006 by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. In that case orangutans and bonobos were able to figure out which tool would work in an effort to retrieve grapes, and were able to remember to bring that tool along hours later.
"Every time you can combine experimental and observational data and you get a consistent result, that is very powerful," said an author of the 2006 study, Joseph Call. "This is an important observation."
He noted that individual differences are big among chimpanzees so the observation might not mean all chimpanzees are capable of the same planning.
"It could be that he is a genius, only more research will tell. On the other hand our research showed the same in orangutans and bonobos so he is not alone," Call said.
Osvath said the chimpanzee had also been observed tapping on concrete boulders in the park to identify weak parts and then knocking out a piece. If it was too big for throwing, he broke it into smaller pieces, before adding them to his arsenal.
"It is very special that he first realizes that he can make these and then plans on how to use them," Osvath said. "This is more complex than what has been showed before."
The fact that the ape stayed calm while preparing his weapons but used them when he was extremely agitated proves that the planning behavior was not based on an immediate emotional drive, Osvath said.
For a while, zoo keepers tried locking Santino up in the morning so he couldn't collect ammunition for his assaults, but he remained aggressive. They ultimately decided to castrate him in the autumn last year, but will have to wait until the summer to see if that helps. The chimpanzees are only kept outdoors between April and October and Santino's special behavior usually occurs in June and July.
"It is normal behavior for alpha males to want to influence their surroundings ... It is extremely frustrating for him that there are people out of his reach who are pointing at him and laughing," Osvath said. "It cannot be good to be so furious all the time."
In Connecticut last month, a 200-pound pet chimpanzee once seen in TV commercials mauled a woman trying to help its owner lure it inside and cornered a police officer in his cruiser before he shot and killed it, authorities said
The owner has speculated that the chimp was trying to protect her and attacked the woman because she had changed her hairstyle, was driving a different car and was holding a stuffed toy in front of her face to get the chimp's attention.
 

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A saw that this morning. I thought it was hilarious (and sort of sad). I wonder what would happen if you had several who showed that same ability? "Alright, we'll attack them on the right flank - make sure we have ample supplies at the forward operating base. Remember, they're humans, so they're not smart. They'll walk right up to the cage. On my mark, we'll open fire. Chuck rocks at the teens with popped collars, they think they're tough, but watch them scream like little girls."
 

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At Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach, there was an island of chimps. We stopped because the car was overheating, and my husband and cousin went down to get some water from the lake. Those chimps had stashes of rocks and threw them at the guys, and made enough hits that the guys gave up trying to get the water. The chimps obviously were well-practiced, as there was a wide path the guys had followed to get to the water, and they waited until the men were actually within range before they started throwing. We thought it was hilarious!
 

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Santino the chimp
Has developed quite an arm
Better bricks than poo
 

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This is by no means the same, but I can remember being at the Toronto Zoo as a kid, in the years before the apes had glassed in enclosures.

I can distinctly remember asking my dad how come we weren't going closer and him lifting me up on his shoulders so I could see, while he told me to watch - the monkeys/apes were flinging poo at the people close to their bar cages! when the crowd screamed, they'd throw more and faster.

I guess at that point someone thought plexiglass would be a better idea.
 

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The Philadelphia Zoo would celebrate yearly the birthday of Massa, the oldest gorilla in captivity. The dieticians would go to great lengths to create for him an elaborate cake made of vegetables and suet, these massively tall creations with carrots as candles.

It was a huge press event. They'd push the thing in using pizza-oven sticks. And...

Massa would, without fail, grab the thing and chuck it at the bars with all his might, splattering the officials, press, and visitors with goo.

Nathan -- Do you remember Massa from your time here in Phila??
 

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I never went to the Phila. Zoo during my time there--pathetic, I know. So I don't remember Massa, although I know a few guys in my neighborhood (20th & Walnut) who would hurl goo from the sidewalk.

It seems like there are a lot of unhappy apes in captivity. This is a lot sadder and much less funny than it was when I posted it. :(
 

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No surprise to me. Chimps have about 98-99% the same genes as humans, make and use tools, can learn sign language and communicate with people........ Of course, as is also true with us, their cousins, there's a great deal of variability of traits among individuals.

 

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Been reading about Massa. He was a whopping 54 years old when he died -- and he passed away on his (supposed) birthday after ingesting a part of one of those cakes.

He originally belonged to some wackadoodle socialite in NY who needed to re-home him after she accidently spilled water on him and he got aggressive. This was in the 1930s. He lived at the Phila Zoo until his death in 1984.

We went to the Phila Zoo all the time -- my grandfather loved it. Despite the 'don't feed the animals' signs, he'd bring a pocketful of raisins and feed everthing on property. I can remember him getting a two-ton hippo to repeatedly come up from the bottom of a pool all for the taste of a tiny raisin.

The monkeys would fight over them as he PINGed them between the bars.

Phila Zoo has come a long way since those days, now into habitats etc. Back then, it was pretty stark. Cement floors and iron bars....

But then again, I guess a lot of zoos have come a long way.
 

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I never went to the Phila. Zoo during my time there--pathetic, I know. So I don't remember Massa, although I know a few guys in my neighborhood (20th & Walnut) who would hurl goo from the sidewalk.

It seems like there are a lot of unhappy apes in captivity. This is a lot sadder and much less funny than it was when I posted it. :(
I know what you mean. When I read it this morning, I pretty much had the same reaction as you "Go Santino!"

The more I thought about it, the less entertaining it became. If he shows a high level of cognition, he has to know a lot about where he's at, and that something isn't right.
 
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