From a biological point of view, between two human beings there can be a difference of 0.5% in DNA. Between a man and a chimpanzee, the difference is only 1.23%. Such proximity is demonstrated by the fact, for example, that chimpanzees can be blood donors to humans and vice versa. Today it is also known that chimpanzees, bonobos and men had a common ancestor two million years ago.
Given these facts, the illegal market (trafficking in animals for various purposes) and the commercial exploitation of great primates in research laboratories, circuses, shows and zoos can be considered as speciesism, compared to slavery – remembering what man did with his peers considered inferior due to their skin color until just over a century ago.
This exploitation, combined with the destruction of forests in Africa and Asia by industrial and commercial activities, results in a drastic reduction in the number of great primates in their original habitats, representing a major threat to species and the environmental balance of ecosystems.
The GAP Project – Great Ape Project defends the right of great primates to live in freedom in their habitats. From the moment they are deprived of this right and become victims of mistreatment, unable to live in the forests, the mission becomes to offer the best quality of life and well-being possible to animals in captivity. In sanctuaries, great primates are treated for physical trauma – tooth extraction and mutilation, for example – and psychological trauma – stress from living in cages and being exposed, among others – and have the chance to recover and form social groups.
“A chimpanzee is not a pet and cannot be used as a mere entertainment object or guinea pig. He thinks, feels, becomes fond of, hates, suffers, learns and even transmits his learning. Anyway, it’s like us. The only difference is that he does not speak, but communicates through gestures, sounds and facial expressions. We need to guarantee their rights to life and liberty.” – Dr. Pedro Ynterian, founder of the GAP Brasil Project, former International President and current Secretary General of the GAP International Project and owner of the Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba, in São Paulo, affiliated with GAP.
The Great Ape Project, or GAP, is an international movement created in 1994 whose main objective is to fight for the guarantee of the basic rights to life, freedom and non-torture of the great non-human primates – Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutans and Bonobos, man’s closest relatives in the animal world. To this end, the project created the World Declaration on Great Apes Rights, a document that makes official the rights attributed to these animals.
GAP was born from ideas developed in a book of the same name written by philosophers Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer, the latter considered one of the world’s forerunners of the animal rights movement. In the book, the authors and other specialists, including the British primatologist Jane Goodall, explain that human beings and great primates share characteristics such as social organization, communication and strong emotional ties between individuals, which give them intelligence and, consequently, , rights very similar to ours.
Currently, GAP is present in 13 countries – Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Ivory Coast and Austria, in which representatives work mainly in publicizing the purpose of the cause of Great Ape Rights and mobilization actions.
In Brazil, GAP has gained prominence in recent decades for the practical work of rescuing and recovering abused chimpanzees developed in four Great Ape Sanctuaries. Despite being private and independent, Brazilian sanctuaries are institutions affiliated with the GAP, that is, they share its ideals in the maintenance of great primates, allowing the development of natural behaviors, despite the situation of captivity, mainly the coexistence in hierarchical groups. The forerunner – and today the largest in Latin America – is the Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba, which began its activities in 2000.
The Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba was founded by businessman and microbiologist Pedro Ynterian, who was president of the GAP International Project from 2008 to 2016 and today holds the position of General Secretary. It all started when Guga, then three months old, was “adopted” by Ynterian to be raised in his apartment in São Paulo. The businessman quickly realized that Guga was not a pet and needed a larger space and the company of other chimpanzees. Thus was born the sanctuary and the interest in publicizing the objectives of the GAP Project in Brazil and in the world.
General organization council
President of Honor: Peter Singer
President: Pedro Pozas Terrados (Espanha)
Vice president: Paulina Bermudez Landa (México)
General secretary: Pedro A. Ynterian (Brasil)