Lessons for Hope
Home Teachers Students Scrapbook Projects    
Lessons for Hope Email Lessons for Hope Roots & Shoots Lessons for Hope Home Lessons for Hope Credits
Chimpanzee Behavior
Altruism is behavior that benefits another individual at some cost to the "altruist" or helper. The cost, at times, may be high - an altruist may even lose his or her life. Altruism in chimpanzee communities can be directed toward close kin, who share many of the altruist's genes, toward individuals who are not closely related, or not related at all. Both male and female adults are likely to go to the aid of their mothers if they happen to be nearby. It is also not unusual for a male to support an ally who is being threatened or attacked by a third, more dominant individual.

Jane's observation:
This incident took place one summer when Melissa was in estrus. For the first part of the morning she had foraged peacefully with two of her offspring, five-year-old Gimble and his adult sister, Gremlin. At 10:13 Satan approached the small family party. Hair bristling, he began to court Melissa, staring up at her as she fed and shaking branches. At once she climbed down to him and, with pant-grunts, crouched for mating. As he began to copulate and she to squeal, her daughter suddenly jumped to the ground and with her year-old infant clinging to her belly, leaped toward the pair, and hit at Satan. The vegetation was thick, and the observer thought that Gremlin had perhaps mistaken the sexual act for one of aggression. Be that as it may, Satan at once stopped mating Melissa and turned to attack her daughter. Gremlin, screaming, crouched protectively over her infant as Satan stamped on her, pounded her with his fists, then dragged her through the undergrowth. At this point Gimble ran at Satan with waa-barks and hit him repeatedly on the head and shoulders. Satan, ignoring this puny assault, continued to attack Gremlin. Then Melissa, who had rushed up a tree, returned to the fray and, along with Gimble, hurled herself at the big male. Satan instantly turned on Melissa. Seizing hold of her by one arm and the hair on her back, he actually picked her up off the ground and threw her some three meters. Melissa once more seized the opportunity to escape. As she ran, screaming loudly, Satan charged after her and little Gimble followed behind, still uttering waa-barks, as did Gremlin from the safety of a tree. Melissa also took refuge in the branches. Satan did not follow but stopped below her tree, glaring up, hair still bristling. Presently he began to shake branches again, summoning her to him. For one and a half minutes Melissa refused to obey; then she climbed down and, still screaming, crouched before him. Satan carefully inspected her genital area, then wandered away. Soon afterward Melissa, Gimble and Gremlin settled down to a twenty-minute grooming session.

Source: Patterns of Behavior, p. 377. 15 August 1983. Observer: Y. Alamasi
 Dr. Jane's Scrapbook:
 Early Years
  Gombe Years
 Global Work
 High & Low Points
 Related Topics:
  ArrowABC's of Chimp Behavior
  ArrowDr. Jane's Scrapbook
  ArrowMultiple Intelligences
  ArrowOnline Dictionary
  ArrowTree Sketching Guide
 Site Information:
  ArrowImage Credits
  ArrowSite Map
  Email Lessons for Hope to a Friend  
Lessons for Hope Contact Info
© 2010 Jane Goodall Institute: Lessons for Hope - Content. All Rights Reserved.
© 2010 3rd Learning - "Lessons For Hope" Website. All Rights Reserved.