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Clever chimps at Kansas City Zoo make brief break to freedom

By Kevin Murphy KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - Seven chimpanzees used an improvised ladder from a tree to scale a wall and briefly escape their enclosure at the Kansas City Zoo on Thursday, a zoo official said. One of the chimps apparently pulled a log or a branch and leaned it against the wall of the enclosure, giving the primates a leg-up to the top, zoo director Randy Wisthoff said.

Connecticut blocks chimp-attack victim's bid to sue state

By Richard Weizel MILFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - A Connecticut woman whose face and hands were ripped off in an attack by a friend's pet chimpanzee in 2009, on Wednesday was denied a bid to sue the state for up to $150 million to cover her medical expenses. The state legislature's judiciary committee voted 35-3 against Charla Nash's request to sue the state to cover injuries she suffered when the 200-pound (90 kilogram) chimpanzee mauled her while she was visiting the home of her friend and employer, who owned the animal.

Merck joins other drugmakers, contract research labs vowing not to do research on chimpanzees

TRENTON, N.J. - Drugmaker Merck The growing trend could mean the roughly 1,000 chimps in the U.S. used for research or warehoused in laboratory cages could be "retired" to sanctuaries by around the end of this decade. That's according to Kathleen Conlee of the Humane Society of the United States, which about seven years ago began urging companies to phase out all research on chimpanzees. Improved technology, animal alternatives and pressure by the federal government and animal rights groups have fueled the trend.

Going ape: Chimpanzees catch human yawns

Human yawns are contagious for chimpanzees but, like children, this only happens among apes that have grown beyond infancy, scientists said Thursday. Playing with a researcher, orphaned young chimps aged between five and eight years began to yawn after their human chum did so, investigators at Sweden's Lund University found. Infant apes, though, seemed immune to yawn contagion. Humans behave in a similar way, with contagious yawning starting when they are around four -- about the same age when behaviours emerge that suggest a capacity for empathy.

Study hints at human-ape emotional similarities

Young bonobos share hugs and kisses to make their peers feel better much the way children do, according to a new study suggesting people and ape emotions function similarly. The bonobo is as genetically similar to humans as is the chimpanzee, and it is also considered the most empathic great ape. "This makes the species an ideal candidate for psychological comparisons," says one of the lead researchers, Frans de Waal. "Any fundamental similarity between humans and bonobos probably traces back to their last common ancestor, which lived around six million years ago."

Spain's Leon the gorilla prepares to head to SouthAm to start new family

Puerto de la Cruz, Spain, Sep 2 (EFE).- Leon, a young gorilla that has demonstrated leadership traits, is heading from a Spanish zoo to South America, where he will be the only one of his kind on the continent and will have an opportunity to start a family. The gorilla, who is about to turn 15, is being readied for the journey of his life this fall. Leon will leave behind his brother and other gorillas at the zoo in Tenerife, one of Spain's Canary Islands, and cross the Atlantic to Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Nearly 3,000 wild great apes 'stolen' each year: UN

Almost 3,000 great apes are killed or captured in the wild each year because of rampant illegal trade, according to a new UN report released Monday that voiced fears for their survival. More than 22,000 great apes are estimated to have been lost to the illicit trade between 2005 and 2011, according to the study by the UN Environment Programme, which oversees the Great Apes Survival Partnership (Grasp).

Man's relationship with nature has gone wrong: Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall greets the audience by imitating a chimpanzee, then launches into an hour-long talk on her relationship with apes and how, from being a primatologist, she became an activist to protect them. At 78, Goodall, who has 53 years of studying chimps behind her, is still criss-crossing the planet to raise the awareness of populations and their leaders on the fate of the apes and the need to protect the environment. "I haven't been more than two or three weeks in one place at one time," for the past 25 years, she says.
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