Jane Goodall’s Research: discovery and controversies

As a follow up to the blog post, Making Daisy Chains with Gorillas, I am looking at Jane Goodall’s research on chimpanzees by reviewing both examples of her scientific writing for journals (beginning with publications from the 1960s) and her popular writing for the general public.  At the same time, I’m preparing to write an essay for the anthrozoology course, so I have a significant amount of reading to do!  In the meantime, while I compile the next post, I will leave you with this National Geographic video – it provides a good, short and general introduction to discoveries made by Goodall and her approach to her work.  I will discuss  these in detail soon, and also explore the controversies surrounding her research method, which has made other primatologists, as mentioned, want to distance themselves from her tradition.

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Semana del Loris Lento – 8 al 14 de septiembre ’14

Thanks to the University of Girona, I now know that it is slow loris week! Here’s their post to raise awareness, and see the new video I’ve posted on the welcome page…

Máster en Primatología

Vía Gloria Fernández Lázaro, Animal Welfare Group (AWSHEL-IAS), Instituto Franklin


¿Qué es un loris lento?

Los loris lentos son mamíferos. Son de sangre caliente y poseen un corazón dividido en cuatro cámaras. Amamantan a sus crías con leche y su cerebro presenta un neocortex y un sistema límbico que les permite procesar emociones complejas. Los loris lentos son primates como los monos y los simios. Tienen cinco dedos y un pulgar, con huellas dactilares tanto en dedos de pies como manos. Su embarazo es largo (6-7 meses) y las crías no son independientes de los padres hasta más o menos los dos años de edad. Sus ojos están en la parte delantera de la cara y tiene unas en vez de garras (a excepción de una garra en cada pie usada acicalarse denominada garra acicaladora).

Los loris lentos son primates estrepsirrinos o prosimios. Son primos de los lémures…

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Considering Arluke – introduction to the animal cruelty webpages

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I will be adding content to the new animal cruelty webpages on the website over the coming weeks (if not months!).  I’ve begun the introduction to the sections:

My Anthrozoology course is meant to shift my career direction a bit, to look more closely at human-animal interactions rather than wide environmental policy issues relating to biodiversity conservation.  As part of the course, I read the book Just a Dog: Understanding Animal Cruelty and Ourselves (2006) by Arnold Arluke.  While I didn’t entirely agree with Arluke’s approach to the subject of animal cruelty, I found the book to be illuminating for several reasons. Arluke does the following:

  • Explores definitions of cruelty
  • Tries to present the perspectives of abusers, albeit (to me) from a flawed traditional symbolic interactionist approach

It was clear from Arluke’s interviews with humane officers and abusers in the States that people hold different definitions of cruelty when it comes to companion animals like dogs and cats.  The case of a dog tied up in a backyard, called in to a humane agency by someone like myself, would be considered a “bullshit complaint”, without the seriousness of a case that could actually be taken to court (laws in the U.S. protect companion animals, to some degree, against extreme cruelty although humane officers struggle to make prosecutions stick even in these more black and white cases).  (pp. 24-25)  And men (mostly men were interviewed by Arluke, as they were the ones to admit to abusing) in their twenties, recounting the “dirty play” (in part defined as delinquency) of their recent youth, looked back on episodes where they abused animals as part of their coming of age, or identity-building; Arluke frames these episodes in such a way and does not consider them examples of some kind of psycho- or socio-pathology (years later, some of these young men did experience guilt for doing what they did).   (p. 64, etc)  It is interesting to note that those interviewed put themselves forward as “abusers”, so on some level and in retrospect they did know that what they were doing was causing harm to individual animals.

It is important to remember that cruelty does not have a fixed definition, for two reasons.  The first involves the animals – cruelty must be defined in relation to the needs of species of animals and individuals within those species (are those needs not being met?).  The second involves the people who are companion to those animals, or are in some interaction with those animals – it is important to explore the perspectives of people who are being accused of animal cruelty, to understand motivations and whether they even see their acts as cruel (are they too focussed on meeting their own needs through the interaction), to refine definitions of cruelty (in this space where humans and animals relate) so that we can most crucially get at a means to stop abuse from occurring in the first place.

Sections on the website under the subject of animal cruelty will look at the issues in relation to primates (and also companion animals) considering the above – what are the needs of the animals in question, what are the perspectives of the so-called “abusers”?  As Arluke rightly points out, the ubiquity, at least in Western society, of what could be called animal cruelty (the more black and white cases) proves that it is not always a matter of individual psychopathology (the beginnings of a serial killer), but a collective, societally-induced pathology. (p. 84)  Arluke highlights the confusion that is wrought in children by the inconsistent treatment of animals that occurs in the adult world – the meat industry, hunting, etc.  It is important to also keep in mind the work of Frank Ascione in this area.  Ascione looks to individual circumstances that can lead to animal abuse, such as the experience of domestic violence in the home; this violence may then be perpetrated against companion animals. (see, for instance, Ascione (2001) ‘Animal Abuse and Youth Violence’.  Juvenile Justice Bulletin.  U.S. Department of Justice, September)

So, animal cruelty is a complex subject with multiple viewpoints, and competing definitions which make it difficult to enforce universal and strict laws to protect the animals in question.  Hopefully the pages we provide will help to inform readers regarding this complexity and lead to conclusions that might improve the welfare of primates, and companion (and other domestic) animals, at that interface of interaction; we will be focussed carefully on animal welfare and trying to move debates forward so that universal definitions of cruelty do favour the individual animals’ needs more than they do now.

International Primate Day


The 1st of September is International Primate Day – Animal Defenders International established this day in 2005 to focus attention on primate conservation and welfare.  Business Times International has, interestingly, run an article highlighting the serious threats facing primates, to raise awareness.  Many organisations devoted to primates are spreading the word: