If you have eleven minutes right now, listen to the last segment of Ira Glass’ This American Life episode #350 here. This segment, called Almost Human Resources, is with Charles Siebert, a reporter who is a contributing writer for the New York Times. The subject of the interview is “retirement homes” for chimpanzees! Siebert does a really good job of articulating some of the problems of using chimpanzees for human purposes, including their use in the entertainment industry. It is so great to hear this issue within a fairly mainstream setting (hopefully that’s not an insult to the program) with a remarkable amount of depth considering the rather light-hearted beginning to the topic. Siebert is apparently finishing up a book he has written about chimpanzees in retirement called “Humanzee.”
Towards the end of the interview, Ira asks Siebert what he thinks about this so-called “retirement” for chimpanzees once used in research and entertainment and Siebert replies, “I’ve come to feel that it’s the best we can do for them given the circumstances, but, in the best of worlds, it shouldn’t have happened. They shouldn’t have been kidnapped from their lives for these purposes…”
I couldn’t have said it better.