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THE APES: CHALLENGES FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
BROOKFIELD ZOO, CHICAGO ILLINOIS -- MAY 12, 2000

The Apes Greatest Challenge: Convincing Humanity to Save Them.
A Symposium on Ethics, Culture, and Social Responsibility

Moderator: Dr. Anthony Rose, Biosynergy Institute

Panel Members:
Dr. Kerry Bowman - Professor, Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto.
Dr. Paul Waldau - Director, The Great Ape Project; Professor, Tufts University.
Dr. Anthony Rose - Director, Biosynergy Institute; Professor, Antioch University So. California

It is the best of times and the worst of times. Here in North America we revel in peace and prosperity. Zoo attendance is up. The economy is growing. Unemployment and crime are dropping. War and civil unrest appear to be things of the past. There is reason to celebrate -- to count our blessings.

But where the wild things are, crisis prevails. Fires decimate the orangutan and their habitat in Borneo and Sumatra. Gibbons are beseiged across their range in Asia. Refugees, militias, and profiteers are butchering gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos in the Congo Basin. There is reason to mourn -- to address our failures.

In this Symposium, three distinguished teachers and humane advocates will address these contradictions and guide audience discussion of ironies and remedies in the conflicts of our age. A core set of vital questions will be raised:

  • Can apes be kept alive for human purposes, or must we value them principally for their intrinsic worth?
  • If poverty, greed, and over-population are the root causes of the ape crisis, who has the solutions?
  • Is the first world consumer culture compatible with the preservation of apes and their habitats?
  • Do all apes have an inalienable right to live in their native wild places, as part of the circle of life?
  • Who will save the apes in the end -- the objectivists who call for the preservation of rare things or the moralists who evoke the sacred spirit of God's original Creation?
These questions will be treated as more than philosophical. Practical answers will be explored in the context of our search for ways and means to know and preserve the apes in their homelands. Fifteen minute presentations by each speaker will be followed by 45 minutes of discussion.

Panelist Details:
Anthony Rose is an applied social psychologist and organization developer. His work focuses on human values and humane solutions to wildlife and environmental crises caused by global consumerism in developing nations.

Kerry Bowman is a bioethicist and cross-cultural scientist. His research examines the perceptions of nature held by people of diverse cultures and ethnicities, and seeks links between community and biodiversity conservation.

Paul Waldau is an attorney and philosopher. His studies focus on non-human animalsí place in world religions, with emphasis on humane rights for apes and other animals known to suffer, love, and aspire to a better life.

Panel Member Abstracts:

Why is Conservation Failing? The Question of Capacity.
Anthony L. Rose, Ph.D. / The Biosynergy Institute; Antioch University Southern California

The failure of conservation in great ape range countries is due to primarily to human crises -- poverty, illness, war, commercial greed, political corruption, lawlessness. There is one cause of failure that is the conservationistís responsibility -- incompetence. The leaders of the conservation movement come from fields and disciplines that donít address the causes of the wildlife crisis. Conservation in the face of poverty, illness, war, etc., demands experts in human welfare and health, peacekeeping and conflict resolution, crime prevention and law enforcement, commercial contract negotiation and compliance assurance, food production, political ethics and morality, financial transparency, spiritual renewal, etc, etc -- all these are human factors domains. Business, applied social science, organization development, law and medicine, cultural ethics, politics and finance, theology and religion -- these are the fields that must carry on the major part of the conservation effort from now on.

If we want to make a difference in the most challenging wildlife crisis of this age, we must alter the social and moral strategies and tactics of key players in conservation and development. To succeed in the face of rampant resource consumption, regional conflagration and local anarchy, conservation must be guided by five strategic imperatives:
  1. social and moral leaders must promote humanity's profound obligation to conserve wildlife and wilderness and to restore nature;
  2. political and economic authority must place conservation on par with human rights and welfare;
  3. conservationists must go beyond protecting biodiversity to assuring the synergy of human social systems and natural ecology;
  4. public demand for intrinsic and spiritual values of nature must supersede utilitarian exploitation and underwrite massive long-term programs in conservation development;
  5. all wildlife habitats must be considered sacrosanct, and human intrusion must be managed in a moral, businesslike, and competent way for the global good.
Conservation is more about changing people than knowing animals. We must expand our competences by inviting new players into the conservation community; for the good of the movement, the apes, and the planet.

Ethics Begin at Home: Captive Well-being Promotes In-Situ Conservation
Paul Waldau, Ph.D. / Great Ape Project and Tufts University

The ability to see well various ethical and ecological issues involving wildlife is related to the relationship we establish here in our own domestic circumstances with nonhuman animals. Zoos must play a role in changing domestic values and perceptions in order to create ethically justifiable relationships with, and perceptions of, nonhuman animals. In the case of the nonhuman great apes, zoos can play a vital role in expanding understanding, perspectives, values, and education. One of the most important roles zoos have in this regard is informing the visiting public that some animals are so complex socially and mentally that it is, for ethical reasons, wrong to subordinate them by using the traditional practice of exhibiting them in captive circumstances. Conversely, when people see great apes displayed in oppressive prison-like conditions, the message given is that these animals are simple minded, non-social beasts which are not worth caring for, studying, or saving in their wild habitat.

Whether here in North America or in great ape range countries, we must project our respect for hominoid sentience, sociality, and intelligence by housing and caring for captive apes in ways that heighten the public sense of kinship and concern for them. We cannot expect lay people to support great ape conservation here, or to stop great ape destruction in Africa and Asia, if they do not see us treating the apes as valuable beings whose individual safety and well-being deserves and receives the best life quality we can provide them.

Cultures, Values and the Protection of the Great Apes
Kerry Bowman, Ph.D. / Joint Centre for Bioethics; University of Toronto

Conservation strategies that will achieve significant, sustainable results, must take into account local cultural perspectives and the values embedded in them. In Western culture, the primary understanding of the natural world focuses on man's independent interaction with nature and the implications of these interactions. This contrasts with the majority of Central-African cultures, which tend to perceive the natural world in a much broader, more integrated, and far less tangible manner which is seen as largely beyond the control and direct experience of humans. Furthermore, in contemporary Africa the spread of market forces, western religions and central governments have begun to disassociate many African people from earlier belief systems related to balance and reciprocity in the natural world. Consequently, tribal values of conserving and respecting non-human life have been eroded.

Conservation initiatives may not be seen by local communities as a moral duty nor an imperative for long term survival. It is therefore important to link strategies to the cultural needs, values and priorities of distinct communities. This will afford these strategies greater credibility and, in turn, foster acceptance and motivation. Methods for accommodating and negotiating such cultural differences in an ethical way must be found.

Panel Members: Brief Biographies

Anthony Rose is a social psychologist and organization developer who has studied macaques, apes, and humans; taught animal behavior, group dynamics, and human psychosocial evolution; and consulted in the private sector and government on forest management, military diplomacy, religious community development, educational innovation, and health care quality assurance. He now devotes his professional efforts to influencing the human dimensions of wildlife and wilderness conservation. Rose's original research on natural epiphanies uncovered crucial factors that affect conservation values and expand world-view from ego and human centered to eco and life centered. Since 1996 he has been working to obtain consensus and coalition among conservation and animal welfare organizations to confront the African bushmeat crisis. Rose serves on the Steering Committee of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force in Washington, DC, and consults on gorilla research and conservation education projects in the US and in Africa. He is a founder of The Biosynergy Institute and the Southern California Primate Research Forum and a member of the IUCN/SSC African Primate Specialists Group. Dr. Rose is a professor at Antioch University Southern California.

Paul Waldau is an attorney and philosopher. He is a faculty member at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, where he teaches ethics and works with graduate students in the Center for Animals and Public Policy. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Specter of Speciesism: Early Christian and Buddhist Views of Animals (American Academy of Religion, 2000), and co-editor of the forthcoming "A Communion of Subjects: Religion and Animals", the edited papers of the May 1999 conference "Religion and Animals" at Harvard University for which he was the principal organizer. His course "Religion, Science, and Other Animals" is one of the 1999 award winners in the international competition sponsored by the Center for Theology and Natural Sciences and the John Templeton Foundation.

Kerry Bowman is a bioethicist and cross-cultural scientist. He is professor in the School of Medicine at University of Toronto, where he serves on the faculty at the Joint Center for Bioethics. His research examines the perceptions of nature and natural phenomena held by people of diverse cultures and ethnicities, including projects in Canada, China, South Africa, and East Africa. His bushmeat and conservation studies have been publicised in Canada where he lectures on topics from ape protection to human life planning. He participated in the Conservation International Bushmeat Initiative in Ghana, the ASP Bushmeat Workshop in New Orleans, is on the working group for SIV Field Research.

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