Animals Like Us – Animal Politics

Man is not the only social animal. At the beginning of 2001, Franz de Waal published his work on a group of chimpanzees in the Arnhem zoo, in the Netherlands. He showed the existence of elaborate and subtle rites which, according to him, revealed a political organization. This fueled the foundation of an argument much debated in today’s scientific world. Man would therefore no longer stand as the only «political animal » as defined by Aristotle. Schemes, coalitions, and mediation are all aspects of chimpanzee behavior. Long before man took hold of the political domain, nature had provided other animal species with a whole array of political stratagems, from the most cunning to the most egalitarian: polyergus ants have been practicing slavery for millions of years, hamadryas baboons have a right of veto and deer on the Isle of Rum have established their own democracy. Biologists have even realized that some traits of character used by politicians to fulfill their ambitions (and reach their goals) can be found in other animal species. Domination, alliance-building, seduction and manipulation are forms of intelligence no longer monopolized by man. Barriers continue to fall as discoveries on animal societies throughout the world progress.

Author(s) : Bertrand Loyer, Guillaume Poyet
Director(s) : Guillaume Poyet




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