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My Life as a Science Promoter – protecting chimps 7/12/11

July 14, 2011

Today I read a few interesting articles online (which I’ll share below), finished reading Strange New Worlds: the search for alien planets and life beyond our solar system, and received a press release from the Lincoln Park Zoo. They highlight new research, and the “findings reveal the significant role that media plays in creating widespread misunderstandings about the conservation status and nature of [chimpanzees].” The results show, “A majority of study respondents were more likely to believe that chimpanzees are not endangered after seeing them portrayed with humans.” Let there be no misunderstanding. CHIMPS ARE IN TROUBLE. Read the rest of the press release:

New Research Demonstrates Damaging Influence of Media on Public Perceptions About Chimpanzees

chicago conservation research

Due to deforestation, chimp habitats are shrinking by the day. What was a population of about 1 million a century ago, scientists estimate the chimp population to be down near 300,000. These mammals are our closest animal ancestor and share many common personality and genetic characteristics. I’m not only interested in helping to conserve chimps to maintain the natural order of things, but as our closest animal ancestor, we have much to learn about this species whose DNA is 96% similar to human’s. Much to learn? Yes! I explain in a previous post:

Chimpanzees: the grandparents of society

Getting back to the press release, chimps in entertainment/media negatively affect the public’s perception of their conservation status. Dr. Steve Ross, founder of Project ChimpCARE and assistant director of the Lester Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo, says:

Whether intentional or not, these images are resulting in significant effects on perceptions of chimpanzees that may hinder critical conservation and welfare initiatives that much of the general public supports.

With this in mind, one of my favorite comedians, Conan Obrien, has a chimp on his shoulder in his Twitter profile pic, @ConanObrien. Additionally, his twitter bio says, “Voice of the people.” Granted, I know he’s a jokester, but I’m not sure this is a joking matter. If the general public supports conservation and welfare initiatives, Conan’s walk doesn’t match his talk.

So, I’ve decided to organize a little Twitter campaign over the next month to get Conan to find a new pic. Now, if I can only get the Lincoln Park Zoo to collaborate with me, we might be able to do something alot faster than if I worked alone. I’ll keep you posted in the weeks to come. That’s all for today, good night and let you be you.

Tom’s favorite science articles of the day:

The truth about cats and dogs: pets are good for mental health

How to recycle plastics properly

Solidarity among scientists to urge policymakers NOT to cut science funding 

The Field Museum uses a CT scanner to look inside ancient mummies

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