From Ultima Thule to Des Moines

Greenland is slowly running out of ice, yet my freezer, like the freezer of most Americans, is practically overflowing with the stuff. We take our great abundance for granted. I’m doing my part by using one less cube per highball, which works out to 7 or 8, possibly 12 cubes conserved per day.

Meanwhile closer to home, our old friend Dr. Sue Savage Rumbagh is in the news again. As you may remember, she’s the scientist who provided a group of apes with a large (13,000-square-foot) and luxurious (indoor waterfall, gourmet kitchen) home in the hopes the beasts would learn language, music and art.1 That hasn’t happened2, but one of the apes, Panbanisha, has learned how to pull the fire alarm.

Some are describing this as a breakthrough (“Brian O'Keefe said Monday it was the first known case of an animal setting off a fire alarm in Des Moines”), but given this projects grandiose aims (music?) and expense (the home by itself cost $10 million), even if the monkey’s3 were to progress to doing better pranks such as egging cars or leaving flaming bags of dog-doo on peoples porches, it would still not be enough to proclaim success.

1Dr. Rumbaugh’s thinking is similar to parents who send their children to expensive colleges.

2With the children either.

3I write about apes, chimps, and monkeys far more than is healthy.

UPDATE (Bonus monkey business): Jihadi monkey behind bars! A correspondent alerted me to a Mohammedan monkey in India who's been imprisoned for repeatedly attacking Hindus:
Raised by a Muslim family in Jagannathpur village, Ramu allegedly attacked some Hindu children five years ago, sparking communal tension in the area. Police arrested Ramu.

But the monkey won over the men in uniform with his naughty ways and a police peace committee decided to set Ramu free after a “serious debate”.

Once freed, the monkey went back to his old ways, refusing to become “secular”. Ramu continued his jihad and landed behind bars again — this time for good. The police built a special iron cell for the “terrorist”.


  1. Believe me, Carter. I am not alone in believing that it is not possible to write too much about apes, chimps, or monkeys.

  2. Damn tootin' straight Andy.

    The world is running out of ice? Please, that is enough to make a cat laugh.

    No one, however, is laughing about the dearth of primate news and commentary on primate news available on the internet.

    For her part, Dr. Savage Rumbaugh's expirement is terribly flawed. Everyone knows if you want an ape to do anything you have only one option: bribe it with tabacco products.

    You'd think someone in charge of a $10 millions research project would be current on primate literature. Surely, she's read of Charlie the Smoking Chimp of New Zealand?

  3. "a simian fundamentalist"

    hahaha. That is too funny.


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