News and blog News Safari Park to breed chimpanzees despite cruelty warning from experts Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 Blair Drummond Safari Park is planning to begin breeding chimpanzees despite expert opinion that chimps suffer in captivity. An article in the Independent explains how head keeper, Mr Gillies, has decided to press ahead with the breeding plans despite warnings from experts based on a recent international study of chimpanzees in captivity. Mr Gillies implies that he believes individual chimpanzees in some zoos may display abnormal behaviour but that this can usually be attributed to background. In actual fact, the scientific study referred to in your article found that all of the chimpanzees monitored showed signs of abnormal behaviour and that this could not be explained by history or background. One of the scientists behind that study, Mr Newton-Fisher, said: ‘We suggest that captivity itself may be fundamental as a causal factor in the presence of persistent, low-level, abnormal behaviour – and potentially more extreme levels in some individuals.’ We call on Mr Gillies, and all other staff at Blair Drummond Safari Park, to read the findings of this study and think carefully about whether it is ethical to breed chimpanzees in captivity. On hearing this news, we contacted Dr William McGrew, world renowned primatologist and Professor of Evolutionary Primatology at Cambridge University, who said: “Breeding chimpanzees in captivity is a retrograde step. It was always ethically questionable, and the more we learn about the great apes, the more ethically irresponsible it is to do so. Whoever does so must face up to the fact that our nearest living relations can live for four or five decades. Is Blair Drummond willing to take on that lifelong responsibility?” We urge Blair Drummond Safari Park to please consider the welfare of these animals, and cancel any plans to breed them in captivity. If the safari park truly wishes to play a part in conserving these magnificent animals, then they should fund in-situ conservation projects in Africa. In order to protect a species, we must protect that species’ habitat.