The Chimp Engineers: A Parable

Scientists Struggle to Make Sense of Chimpanzees after Discovering a Lack of Diversity and Equality

Chimp by Patrick Bouquet | CC BY-NC-ND

Image: Chimp by Patrick Bouquet | CC BY-NC-ND

A group of scientists working for the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project in Uganda has been monitoring a particular chimp society consisting of over 200 members since 1995. Yet despite aggressive efforts to make the Ngogo chimps more diverse, ignorant males continue to practice patriarchy.

“When we first arrived, the team was so shocked we had to run back to our safe spaces,” said professor Hare. “We discovered that chimpanzees living at Ngogo were racially homogeneous individuals who defended their exclusive territory against rivaling bands.”

The professor further explained that when you remove a chimpanzee’s fur, their skin is white. “It was as if we walked into 1930s Germany all over again. We had been taught that white people and their crimes were a historic aberration, but here we are.”

Still visibly shaken, the professor’s colleague, doctor Goodall, reminisced of a recent cruel event. In his struggle for a place among the group’s hierarchy, 20-year-old chimp Gripelli had begun harassing young females and hitting other chimps’ children. Not long afterwards, a group of alpha males ganged up on him and murdered him as punishment.

“We have absolutely no clue as to why they murdered him,” professor Hare stressed. “But it’s clear that males are the problem. We believe that one of the chimps, called Pincer and a former friend of Gripelli, for no reason whatsoever, simply decided that it was time to murder a fellow chimp. We think Pincer was literally Hitler.”

To end the violence, the team decided to make the chimp territory more diverse. They trucked in dozens of random individuals from rivaling bands of chimps without vetting them for social compatibility. “We just wanted to give them a better life,” said Goodall. “And we believed diversity would overcome racism.”

What happened next came as a complete surprise. The newcomers began aggressively harassing young females, even killing their children. Panicked, the patriarch Ngogo males hunted them down and then killed all newcomers. The traumatized scientists have been unable to come up with an explanation for this racist behavior.

“By then we knew we were running out of time,” said doctor Goodall. “Things weren’t progressing fast enough.” If diversity didn’t work, the team decided to go ahead and end the patriarchy one gender at a time. Goodall and Hare set up a program to raise the male children as females, by force.

Using extreme hormone suppressant drugs, psychological manipulation and humiliation tactics, the team was able to turn the next generation of Ngogo males into timid, frightened shadows of their potential selves. But there was one final obstacle left to overcome. They still had penises.

“Two dozens of the Ngogo males then received their sex change operations. It was only fair. Their females had been oppressed for so long. Removing their genitals guaranteed a victory for the feminist movement. Additionally, we turned the alpha male, Jackson, into a gender neutral chimp by surgically removing his nipples and testicles.”

A few days later, what was perhaps the first case of chimp suicide known to man, Jackson leaped from a tree to his death, for inexplicable reasons.

With the alpha male out of the way, progress didn’t immediately take off. The remaining untreated males kept showing masculine, patriarch behavior, taking advantage of the surplus of distressed females now in need of a real man. The only way to solve this problem was to train female chimps to act like males.

Goodall explained: “Many of the females received male hormone supplements that we added to their daily food supply. The team then did a great job at training the females to patrol their territory’s perimeter like males used to do.”

The emasculated males left behind would have to learn to breastfeed baby chimps using artificial implants while their females were out on patrol. One day, out of the blue, neighboring bands of rivals took advantage of the patrolling female’s physical weakness by brutally killing them after first having gang raped them.

“The poor refugees probably felt discriminated,” professor Hare pointed out. “The Ngogo chimps had offended their neighbors’ feelings by hoarding food.” As a workaround to this problem, the team established what they called ‘open chimp society’ by clearing the territory of trees to hide in.

The Ngogo race is now completely extinct. Their territory is being occupied by rivaling gangs who’ve plunged the once relatively peaceful lands into a permanent state of conflict.

Of course I’m not writing about chimpanzees, but about human beings. Unlike people, though, chimps don’t regard society from a surgeon’s perspective.

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The Chimp Engineers: A Parable by Mathijs Koenraadt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.