A female lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) photographed at the Bronx zoo in 2007.

According to Reuters the Spanish Congress is set to extend legal rights to apes in captivity, ending cruel experiments, isolation in circuses, and other forms of mistreatment. (Zoos will still be allowed to keep apes but the conditions there must be improved.) Although not yet passed, the legislation has enough support that victory is close. The folks behind the Great Ape Project have been pivotal in pushing this initiative and I sincerely hope that other countries in which apes are still subject to cruelty in labs, circuses, and elsewhere follow Spain’s example.

From “Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History

[Hat-tip to SciGuy and John Wilkins.]

[Post-Script]; William Dembski considers freeing apes from cruel and unethical treatment as evolutionary propaganda and claims he senses “lunacy around the corner.” (But apparently he cannot sense the lunacy that is closer to home.) At least he comes clean about the Disco Institute’s Creationist program, though;

Discovery Institute’s persistent stress on humans being made in the image of God and that not being a privilege extended to the rest of the animal world makes more and more sense.

Even though we’re told that Moses couldn’t even look at God without dying (Exodus 33:18-23), Willy D has been able to look at the Designer and is adamant that he looks nothing like a chimpanzee. Apparently Dembski can’t recognize the family resemblance (which sundry scientific disciplines have overwhelmingly supported) with our closest relatives in the African forests. At times like these I wonder what would have happened if some of our extinct relatives, say Neanderthals or even the robust australopithecines, had survived and lived alongside us today. Given the hatred and contempt we show towards members of our own species I can’t imagine that they would have been treated with kindness.


  1. #1 Woody Tanaka
    June 27, 2008

    Very Good! Way to go, Spain. Let’s hope that the other governments of the world follow her lead.

  2. #2 Luis
    June 27, 2008

    If only these rights would be extended to human beings under custody…

    Don’t get me wrong: I am in favor of such legislation but while keeping apes in isolation is forbidden (and that’s great), this does not apply to human people under state custody, be them “terrorism” suspects (a wide array of people nowadays), people in prision or in psychiatric facilities.

    There’s a tuff of hypocrisy in all this (and let’s not forget animal torture in bullfights).

  3. #3 Laelaps
    June 27, 2008

    Luis; True, I think many human beings kept at Gitmo and elsewhere have been cruelly treated, but the lack of such reforms doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t push for better treatment for the apes (as you note). Creationists and conservatives, on the other hand, see this as stupid as they are more concerned with the abortion issue; the connection is easy to make but I don’t see how it is relevant. I think the legislation is a good thing that should be supported and not belittled or deemed irrelevant when compared to other tangentially-related issues.

New comments have been disabled.