Apes Mental Capacity


Apes Mental Capacity

Apes and humans are quite similar to each other. Scientists do not believe that there is any psychological similarity between apes and humans. The scientists also oppose the idea that apes have a complex mental capacity. A study done to examine the bonobos suggests their mental capacity is almost similar to that of humans.

Rumbaugh asserts that although apes cannot be able to write, they are authors since they can speak, answer questions and use lexigrams. According to Rumbaugh, (2011, p, 7) “Apes cannot be able to write, but they can speak.” The author goes on to suggest the apes she studied voluntarily participated in a conversation on what the bonobos required. The writer proposes that the authorship of writing the article should be shared between the apes and humans since both apes and humans contributed to the study. Thus, it is only fair to recognize both parties involved in the authorship of the article.

Early examiners of the ape language did not discover what Rumbaugh found since the researchers did not proceed with their investigation for a long time. Also, in the early years, most researchers did their study with a predetermined perception when studying the apes. The author suggests that the apes in the Congo region where she did her study had their own culture and language. Rumbaugh (2011, p 5) states that “Apes in the group were different since they shared a unique culture and language which related to life in Congo.” Through the use of the apes’ language, it was possible to inquire on what they thought were their social surroundings, needs, perception of people and other apes. The author states that she had direct experience with specific apes on their ability to use language to express themselves and point out their needs.


Scientist agree that apes have some form of culture. However, scientists believe that humans have a complex mental ability which apes lack. Scientists doubt that apes have the mental capacity that drives the human lives. Apes are shrewd and emotional beings that behave like humans but significantly differ from the human nature. Therefore, this difference validates why apes are not given much concern compared to human beings. Using case studies as examples, scientists justify the reason why they rank themselves/humans as better mental thinkers as compared to apes. With this justification in mind, scientists believe that humans have the right to independence, speech, freedom from speech among other privileges that apes do not have. Rumbaugh suggests that people must now accept and consider the fact that apes (even though they are non humans) have a complex psychological mind that closely resembles that of human beings. When humans fail to understand apes, the apes under go through a lot of pain and torture since the inner minds and lives are not considered. Rumbaugh suggests that preferences, culture, and social relationships of apes ought to be considered.

Interspecies have distinctive ways of communicating. Rumbaugh suggests that apes have the capability to grasp and respond to complicated linguistic narrations and questions with regards to any issue that affects their lives. This is to mean that apes can give a lot of information on their environment whether it entails culture, psychology or physical. The author, Rumbaugh (2011, p 17) cites that “bonobos have unique communicative capacity.” However, the bonobos do not hold conversations with strangers who might wish to have a chance to cross-examine them. The author suggest that for researchers to study and understand the apes, they should take a keen look features like the apes facial expression, quietness and should have an open mind.

In conclusion, apes’ mental capacity is complex; thus, human beings have to take their time and patience when studying apes. Researchers on apes must also do their research with an open mind in order to understand apes and appreciate their abilities.


Rumbaugh, S. Wamba, A. Wamba, P. and Wamba, K. (2007) Apes Welfare in Captive Environments: Comments by a Specific Group of Apes. Journal of Applied Animal Science, 10(1), 7-19.

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