Why are there apes in the zoo?

04 November 2007

Question

Why are there apes in the zoo? Why does one ape decide, ‘I fancy being a man,’ and another genus of ape says, ‘I’m quite happy being an ape'?

Answer

Essentially, all of the apes have evolved separately. We separated from chimpanzees somewhere about 5 million years ago and we've all evolved in our own different ways since then. It's quite an interesting question that why are some in the zoo and others aren't and I guess that doesn't say much about us as a species. If we found a hobbit today and put that in the zoo it would be quite an interesting one. But it's not just evolution by anatomy as well. There's research showing that some groups of chimpanzees in Africa have actually developed the use of stone tools several thousand years ago. So there's a stone tool age for chimps.

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