Vaccinating Wild Chimpanzees

PuckLOCThe world’s chimpanzee population is shrinking. There are now barely 150,000 chimpanzees left on Earth, fifty-percent fewer than there were just fifty years ago. By comparison, there are now more than 7,181,650,000 humans roaming the planet. There are both scientific and ethical reasons why we should try to save the species with whom we share more than 98% of our genome, and conservationists who want to help chimpanzees stave off extinction have now gone on the offensive. Last month, a group of primatologists led by Peter Walsh announced that they had recently administered vaccines to a group of wild chimpanzees, and that doing so had rendered the chimps immune to the virulent ebola virus. They are now encouraging other researchers to adopt the same practice. I can hardly disparage the plan, especially if it’s going to help us save our primate brethren, but I’m obliged to point out that vaccinating wild chimpanzees will necessarily complicate our already complicated idea of what it means to be “wild.” To learn more, check out the links here and here. Meanwhile, the image in the banner, which purports to show a chimpanzee’s perspective, first appeared on the cover of Puck magazine in 1911. To learn more, click on the banner (or click here).