strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

  • Wall of the Dead

  • Categories

Posts Tagged ‘biomedical testing’

Should We Test a Vaccine for Wild Chimps on Captive Ones?

Posted by Richard Conniff on May 27, 2014

(Photo: Guenter Guni/Getty Images)

(Photo: Guenter Guni/Getty Images)

My latest for Takepart:

Let’s say you have a technology that could save chimpanzee and gorilla species, our closest primate kin, from the almost certain prospect of extinction in the wild. But to make it work, you must first do biomedical testing on captive chimpanzees, a practice that has been denounced as cruel and largely unnecessary by the revered primatologist Jane Goodall and many others.

That’s the ethical dilemma posed by a study appearing today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It notes that outbreaks of the Ebola virus “have killed roughly one-third of the world gorilla population,” leading in 2007 to the listing of western gorillas as critically endangered. It also reports the results of the first experiment to vaccinate captive chimpanzees against this notorious disease.

While the immediate focus is on Ebola, the coauthors, led by University of Cambridge population biologist Peter D. Walsh, suggest that the study sets a precedent. Effective human vaccines often languish because drug companies cannot justify the huge expense of doing proper trials to bring them to market, especially when they treat conditions found only in impoverished regions. Hence the Ebola vaccine in the study remains unavailable for human use. But “our study demonstrates that it is feasible,” the coauthors write, “even for modestly funded ape conservationists to adapt such orphan vaccines as Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conservation and Extinction | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »