Disneynature's "Chimpanzee" comes out in theaters today, and looks to be an incredible look at life for chimpanzees in the wild. But since there are still chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories, here's a little celebration of a project from Lori Gruen. She says that while doing research for her book on human relations to captive chimpanzees, she became interested in the genealogy of chimps in the U.S.
She became interested in a list that Robert Yerkes, whose studies of chimpanzees and other apes in the 1920s led to the first primate laboratory in the U.S., had created of the chimps he had worked with.
Gruen explains what she found:
But the “complete list”, wasn’t exactly complete. The males in the colony are all listed with odd-numbers, the females with even numbers. (As an extra measure to maintain sex classifications, the female names all end in vowels, the male names all end in consonants). In 1941, there were more females in the colony than males, and thus while Flora completed the list at 100, 14 names were not yet on the list (they hadn’t been born) and 46 had not yet died. To commemorate the first 100 chimpanzees, Gruen sought to complete the list as best she could.
And so, if you visit first100chimps.wesleyan.edu, you can click on each name of the first 100 and find the details of these individuals' lives and deaths, "based on the best interpretation of the records that have been archived and also on published material that reference individual chimps," according to Gruen. It's a fantastic resource and these chimps deserve to be remembered.