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The Life and Death of Cholmondeley Essay

In this essay, “The Life and Death of Cholmondeley” Gerald M. Durrel effectively illustrates that the needs of Chumley, the intelligent ape are better met by him rather then the authorities of the London Zoo. Firstly, Chumley shows many qualities of a curios infant, he demonstrates a considerable potential to learn and analyze simple skills ideas and situations. Like a small child, it is evident that Chumley needs certain intimate attention not properly provided by the zoo. When Durrel limits the amount of attention given to Chumley, the ape becomes “a little jealous of [the new monkey] Sue- but he was too much of a gentle man to show it.” (Pg. 25)

Evidently, Chumley longs for attention, and things got out of control when he left to go out in the public and interact the best he knows how. Secondly, the animals physical heath and safely is a main concern when deciding weather the Zoo or Durrel should gain possession of the beast. It is unsafe for the Chumley to stay in the Zoo with obviously easy access to an exit, or escape root, on a street where he can be hit by cars or/and possibly be killed, like when “there were some cars parked there and Chumley approached them and beat on the doors…but the foolish humans misconstructed his actions: there he was full of Christmas Spirit, asking for a lift, and all they would do is wind up there windows and yell for help.” (Pg. 26)

This situation demonstrates the Chumley thought not dangerous by nature pit himself in a potentially lethal situation by venturing out in the world in search of intellectual companionship. Thirdly, often the well being of any animal is decided by many alternate factors, along with the discretion of the humans involved. In this case, another factor needs to be considered-the overall happiness of the subject. Chumley makes it obvious that he values his time with Durrel and sees him as an equal “with some trepidation I [Durrel] watched as he [Chumley] carefully put one of my fingers between his great teeth and very gently bit it. Then I understood it: in the Chimpanzee world to place your finger between another ape’s teeth and to do the same with his [finger], is a greeting, a sign of trust”. (Pg. 22)

Chumley seemed very contented by the lifestyle of Durrel, and even made points of adapting and learning it, for example: smoking cigarettes, drinking out of a mug, and sitting with proper stature on a chair.

In Conclusion, without compromising the emotional well-being, safety, and happiness of the primate, Durrel provides him with an environment where Chumley has the prospective expand his knowledge of human behaviour, and feasibly become familiar enough to practise them. Different creatures need different types of environments in which to strive and grow in the case of Chumley, from “The Life and Death of Cholmondeley” It is unmistakable that this ape requires one on one communication with others in order to be content.


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