SANTINO RULES!!–What a Rock Throwing Chimp Can Really Teach Us

The New York Times and many other media outlets reported the story of a mature alpha male chimpanzee named Santino who was 'living' at a zoo in Sweden.  His claim to fame was his habit of collecting rocks and bits of building debris, storing them for the appropriate moment, then lobbing them at visitors.  He was apparently clearly annoyed by those human beings who gawked at him from beyond the protective walls of his compound.

Scientists and evolutionary behaviorists have been particularly impressed by Santino's ability to anticipate and plan for his bombardment of human interlopers.  This represents a new understanding of primate consciousness which was unexpected and speaks to the evolution of human awareness.

Of course it is also pointed out that Santino is not a very good shot, that he tosses the rocks underhand and hasn't hit anyone.  He apparently does this, however,  with a sense of rage and
 frustration–the human visitors keep coming back.

The scenario brings to mind some scenes from the classic film Planet of the Apes.  We, human beings, still tend to regard the world as our play box and its nonhuman inhabitants as objects of  amusement.  That is the origin of zoos and the reason  they still exist.

Perhaps the lesson we should be learning from Santino is less about how human beings have evolved to plan and think, and more about how we have abused our fellow creatures.  Perhaps Santino is expressing a desire which we humans hold to be "God-given", the right to self-determination, freedom from the oppression of others.

Perhaps it is time to learn what our fellow living beings are trying to teach us–the Golden Rule applies to all living beings.  Perhaps it is time to relegate zoos to a  historical curiosity.  At least let us be far more sensitive as to how and why we take creatures away from their natural habitats, alter their natural life cycles and turn them into objects of human  entertainment.

Perhaps if Santino could throw like a major league pitcher, we'd get the message a lot sooner.

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