We are beginning to learn that each animal has a life and a place and a role in this world. If we place compassion and care in the middle of all our dealings with the animal world and honor and respect their lives, our attitudes will change.
But does that mean that war and violence are inevitable? I would argue not because we have also evolved this amazingly sophisticated intellect, and we are capable of controlling our innate behavior a lot of the time.
I wouldn't even like to begin to define God - I have absolutely no idea. But what I feel, and what touches me, is a great spiritual power, which I don't even want to name. If I had to, I would say God, because I don't know any other.
Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.
It is these undeniable qualities of human love and compassion and self-sacrifice that give me hope for the future. We are, indeed, often cruel and evil. Nobody can deny this. We gang up on each one another, we torture each other, with words as well as deeds, we fight, we kill. But we are also capable of the most noble, generous, and heroic behavior.
Without the support of local people, you might as well give up because you can make all the noise you like, you can demarcate a national park, but if the people outside want to go creeping into a forest you really can't stop them. They've got to get a benefit.
Chimpanzees have given me so much. The long hours spent with them in the forest have enriched my life beyond measure. What I have learned from them has shaped my understanding of human behavior, of our place in nature.
Just remember--if you are really and truly determined to work with animals, somehow, either now or later, you will find a way to do it. But you have to want it desperately, work hard, take advantage of an opportunity--and never give up.
It's been proven by quite a few studies that plants are good for our psychological development. If you green an area, the rate of crime goes down. Torture victims begin to recover when they spend time outside in a garden with flowers. So we need them, in some deep psychological sense, which I don't suppose anybody really understands yet.
Chimpanzees, more than any other living creature, have helped us to understand that there is no sharp line between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. It's a very blurry line, and it's getting more blurry all the time.
Language allows us to talk about the past and plan the future. We can teach children about things that are not present. And above all, we can bring people with different backgrounds and different knowledge together to discuss our problems. This actually gives me hope. I still think we are smart enough to not destroy planet Earth, our only home.
We, as humans, have actually developed a sense of social responsibility. We have gone beyond our basic instincts. We can and we do. This is what sets us apart from the chimps. They are extremely brutal and hostile. Your next door neighbor is to be killed unless she is a juicy young female, who hasn't yet had her first baby, in which case you want her.
It has actually been suggested that warfare may have been the principle evolutionary pressure that created the huge gap between the human brain and that of our closest living relatives, the anthropoid apes. Whole groups of hominids with inferior brains could not win wars and were therefore exterminated.
The tree I had in the garden as a child, my beech tree, I used to climb up there and spend hours. I took my homework up there, my books, I went up there if I was sad, and it just felt very good to be up there among the green leaves and the birds and the sky.
Studying chimps, I came to the conclusion that being evil is something that only humans are capable of. A chimp would never plan to pull another's nails out. The chimps' way of aggression is quick and brutal. I compare them to gang attacks.
Certainly the first true humans were unique by virtue of their large brains. It was because the human brain is so large when compared with that of a chimpanzee that paleontologists for years hunted for a half-ape, half-human skeleton that would provide a fossil link between the human and the ape.
We started off with physical evolution and got our form. Then we somehow developed language, which meant cultural evolution could race so we could change our behavior really quickly instead of over hundreds and hundreds of years. And then comes moral evolution, which means we're not frightfully far along with people. And maybe we end up with a spiritual evolution, which is this connectedness with the rest of the life forms on the planet.
We have language and they do not. Chimps communicate by embracing, patting, looking - all these things. And they have lots of sounds. But they cannot sit and discuss. They cannot teach about things that are not present, as far as we know.
When I look back over my life it's almost as if there was a plan laid out for me - from the little girl who was so passionate about animals who longed to go to Africa and whose family couldn't afford to put her through college. Everyone laughed at my dreams. I was supposed to be a secretary in Bournemouth.
...it honestly didn't matter how we humans got to be the way we are, whether evolution or special creation was responsible. What mattered and mattered desperately was our future development. Were we going to go on destroying God's creation, fighting each other, hurting the other creatures of the His planet?
To me, cruelty is the worst of human sins. Once we accept that a living creature has feelings and suffers pain, then by knowingly and deliberately inflicting suffering on that creature, we are guilty, whether it be human or animal.
The more we learn of the true nature of non-human animals, especially those with complex brains and corresponding complex social behavior, the more ethical concerns are raised regarding their use in the service of man—whether this be in entertainment, as 'pets,' for food, in research laboratories, or any of the other uses to which we subject them.
I've got different ideas of complete happiness. But one is being by myself out in a forest, completely happy. Another is walking with a dog in some nice place. And three is sitting around preferably a fire, but not necessarily, and drinking red wine with friends and telling stories.
As human beings, we can encompass a vague feeling of what the universe is, and all in this funny little brain here - so there has to be something more than just brain, it has to be something to do with spirit as well.