Private ownership of exotic animals such as chimpanzees is wrong, noted
primatologist Jane Goodall said yesterday in Columbus.
"It's the same thing with lions and tigers; they don't belong in private hands," she said.
Goodall, 78, a pioneer in the study of wild chimpanzees, was in Columbus to speak at Ohio State University last night. She talked with reporters briefly beforehand.
She has long opposed keeping chimpanzees as pets and said she continues to lobby for a national ban on exotic pet ownership through her organization, the Jane Goodall Institute.
The issue has been contentious in Ohio since a Zanesville-area wild-animal owner released his pets in 2011 and then committed suicide. Law enforcement killed most of the animals to protect the public.
That prompted a new Ohio law on private ownership of exotics. Owners must register them with the state, have identification microchips implanted in them, pay permit fees, obtain insurance and meet strict requirements for cages, fencing and signs that most owners say they can't afford.
The restricted list includes large cats, bears, elephants, chimpanzees, gorillas, rhinos, alligators, crocodiles and certain snakes.
Goodall said some people "think it's cute to have a chimp baby," let it live in the house and treat it like a human.
"But chimps don't want to be like a human in a house," she said, and eventually they become older and stronger, and owners don't want them.
In 2009, Goodall weighed in on the issue after a Connecticut woman's pet chimpanzee mauled and disfigured a friend.
In an editorial published nationwide, Goodall wrote that the use of chimpanzees in advertising makes them seem "cute, funny and even lovable" and encourages people to think they can be pets.
"Wild animals simply do not make good pets," she wrote. People who keep them for company or for entertainment not only harm those chimpanzees but also make it difficult for the public to understand how endangered they are in the wild, she said.
The British-born Goodall studied chimpanzee behavior near Gombe National Park in Tanzania in eastern Africa beginning in 1960 at the behest of famed anthropologist and paleontologist Louis S.B. Leakey. She's credited with several firsts: observing that chimps use tools, eat meat, sometimes kill one another and sometimes are kind to one another.
Goodall has shared her findings about the Gombe chimps in books and television shows, becoming well-known both in the scientific world and by the general public. After observing the chimps for decades, in the 1980s she turned her attention to helping the species survive its diminishing habitat and hunting by man.
The release of her most recent book, Seeds of Hope, was postponed last week after The Washington Post reported that several passages in the book had been copied from a variety of websites.
"It is important to me that the proper sources are credited, and I will be working diligently with my team to address all areas of concern," she wrote in a statement. Goodall co-wrote the new book with Gail Hudson.
Last night, she said she is making the book "squeaky clean" so her detractors can't criticize it further.
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