Special lecture by Dr. Jane Goodall
It is no exaggeration to claim that the great apes are the evolutionary
cousins of humans. Evidence that has emerged over the past decades
from a variety of disciplines as widely distributed as paleontology,
physical anthropology, biochemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience,
ethology, ecology, and psychology has shown that the distance
separating the living great apes from humans is smaller than
ever before envisaged. Long-term studies conducted on the demography,
reproduction, and cultural behavior of wild populations have
irreversibly reduced the man-made gap between apes and ourselves.
As a result, most of the observed differences now appear quantitative
rather than qualitative in nature.
The present symposium represents the gathering of both laboratory
and field-based scientists with the common concern of understanding
humans and great apes from an evolutionary perspective. People
working in all fields of primatology are brought together. In
addition to the opportunity to exchange information and to lay
the foundations for future collaboration, we believe that this
meeting also makes it possible for us to collectively address
a further important agenda.
Human activity in the recent past has forced all great ape species
to the brink of extinction in the wild. In captivity, individuals
are subjected to experiments at biomedical and other research
facilities, often involving invasive treatments, for example,
in the study of viral diseases and gene therapy. We should attempt
to and succeed in finding an acceptable solution to improve the
situation under which our closest relatives must exist in captivity
as well as in the wild.
Therefore we, as researchers of the great apes, must further
stress how small the distances are that separate chimpanzees,
bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans from humans. We must bear in
mind that all the great ape species are listed as "endangered"
in CITES: numbers in the wild are decreasing. In addition, captive
populations often suffer from inadequate management. Individuals
survive 50 years , in some cases even longer. These characteristics
are not congruent with the standards for so-called experimental
animals. We believe that there need to be serious constraints
on the use of great apes in invasive studies. We therefore propose
the following agenda to promote our scientific understanding
of all great apes.
First, we shall undertake action for
the conservation of the great apes and their natural habitat.
Second, we shall endeavor to enhance the quality of life of the
great apes in captivity.
Third, we shall not use the great apes as subjects in invasive
studies, but promote our scientific understanding through non-invasive
For our purposes, the word non-invasive
refers to treatment that causes irreversible deficits of normal
function. In short, illegal or non-ethical treatment prohibited
in the case of human subjects is to be likewise prohibited in
the great apes.
Based on this agenda, we hope to halt current trends of habitat
destruction in the wild and invasive use of great apes in captivity
worldwide. People from various disciplines need to work together
to support wildlife conservation programs and to develop suitable
conditions for the life of the great apes in captivity.
We hope that people all over the world will demonstrate their
approval and support for our attempt toward a better life for
the great apes in the 21st century.