The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning

By Daniel Bor | Go to book overview

6
Being Bird-Brained Is Not an Insult:
Uncovering Alien Consciousness

TENDER CHIMPS, CAPRICIOUS BONOBOS

Monkey World, in Dorset, England, is the largest primate rescue center in the world. Although it looks after orangutans, gibbons, monkeys, and lemurs, primarily the center houses chimpanzees, with the highest number in any one place outside of Africa, currently about sixty strong. This group of chimps, largely saved from neglect or abuse, is cared for by thoughtful, devoted staff, and the animals seem to lead a relatively happy, natural life. Monkey World is such a popular location that multiple television documentary series have been made describing the fascinating activities at the center. The following story is taken from one episode.

Some years back, Olympia, like all female chimps in the center, was given a birth control implant, but managed somehow to remove it, and promptly became pregnant. She was a devoted mother for a year to her daughter, Hebe, but then her milk dried up. The Monkey World staff made the difficult decision to remove Hebe from her mother for a while so that a human could continue to feed her. Six weeks later, they started reintroducing Hebe to her mother in short visits, with a view eventually to returning Hebe to Olympia full time, when food was no longer an issue. Jim and Alison Cronin, the husband-and-wife team in charge of Monkey World at the time (sadly, Jim Cronin has since died), were concerned about how the mother and daughter would react, so decided to take very tentative steps toward a reunion. Their

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