As if we needed more proof animals are agents and thinking, feeling, sensitive subjects, who experience oppression and captivity no different than we do; who need freedom just as we do; and who will resist their oppressors and fight for their freedom, just as humans will, when they are not so alienated and comfortable in their own oppression they are not even aware they are prisoners.
Not so with these chimps; they methodically planned their Great Escape (shades of Steve McQueen) with whatever tools available to them, just as human prisoners are wont to do.
As I wrote some years back:
“The most fascinating thing about zoos is not their materiality — the cages, bars, walls, windows, moats, and enclosures; the closed world of loneliness and pain pierced by cries in the night; the dank and fetid smells of festering illness and misery. Rather, the main interest of zoos lies in their underlying psychology — in the human mindset that seeks to master nature, to domesticate wildlife, to exert its will to power over what it deems inferior to itself; in the epistemologies of hierarchy and rule that have defined the totality of Western culture since its inception. The architectures of separation exist not so much to detach us from any particular zoo animals, but from the natural world as a whole; they are ontological dividing lines. Zoos separate us not only from particular animals but also, more generally, from our own animality, our evolutionary heritage, our biological ancestors — the sentient and thinking beings with whom we share the dynamic adventure of evolution and whose existence paved the way for our own. Thus, the walls are not a physical as much as a cultural means of separation; they split life into “us” vs. “them” rather than establishing an evolutionary continuum.”
Of course zookeepers, oppressors, and their speciesist agents in corporate media don’t see things quite this way. Perhaps the most poignant irony in this story is how the prisonhouse of zoos terrorize, beat, and physically and psychologically abuse our closest biological relatives, by the sheer institutionally fact of confinement and control. But slave resistance and uprising — as in the animal liberation movement — is stigmatized as “terrorism,” while the real oppression, violence, and terrorism is coded as business, entertainment, research, or some other perverted concept in an inverted order of meaning.
New York Daily News, July 13, 2012
Five chimpanzees broke out of their enclosure at Germany’s Hannover “Experience Zoo” on Wednesday, terrorizing [!!] patrons and injuring a five-year-old girl.
How exactly the chimps escaped from their enclosure is under investigation, according to the Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung.
The chimps may have used wood that had fallen into their area during gardening work to scale the wall of their pen, AFP reported. A zoo spokesperson told Die Welt Online that the apes utilized a tree that had fallen over in a recent storm to climb out.
About 2,500 people were visiting at the zoo at the time, and were evacuated once officials realized the apes were on the loose.
A 5-year-old girl was knocked over by one of the apes as it tore through the grounds of the zoo. The child escaped the encounter with cuts on her face, and was taken to the hospital for observation, according to Die Welt Online, where zoo officials sent her a large plush toy.
Most of the escapees didn’t get very far. Four of them “had a quick look around and then jumped pretty quickly back into their compound,” zoo spokeswoman Simone Hagemeyer told AFP.
“The fifth and oldest chimp went off to visit the head gorilla,” she told the newswire service. “He’s getting on a bit, so we offered him a ladder to get back into the enclosure.”
The animal rights organization PETA criticized the Hannover Zoo, accusing them of “grossly negligent behavior.”
“Chimpanzees possess incredible strength and can be completely unpredictable around humans. One chimpanzee on its own can injure or kill a human – five escaped chimpanzees could have led to a catastrophe,” zoologist and PETA organizer Peter Höffken said in a press release.
“Incidents of severe injury continually take place with chimpanzees in captivity,” Höffken added. “The practice of keeping intelligent great apes in captivity must be abolished.”