In their attempts to pretend that the species homo sapiens (human) is somehow not part of the animal kingdom, and is instead uniquely created very different from and above all other life on Earth, creationists often go to great lengths to convince themselves that all other animals are essentially automatons working purely on instinct. I’ve even heard some of them claim that animals do not think or make any decisions at all.
That is why recent observations of the actions of Santino, a 31 year old male chimpanzee at the Furuvik zoo in Sweden, are so exciting. It is not that he is by any means alone in displaying the ability to think deeply, but his actions are very clear and easily identifiable, and most importantly well observed and documented.
So what did he do that was so special? During the season that the zoo was open, and only during that season, he collected stones while the zoo was closed and made piles of them around the side of the enclosure where tourists would gather to watch him. Later, when the zoo was open and people came to stare at him and annoy him, he would go back to his caches of stones and hurl them at the visitors!
He would even smash the concrete to get more good throwing stones, which became more important once the zoo keepers started confiscating his piles of rocks. Santino’s rock throwing may not seem nice, and we may be tempted to think it’s beneath us, but what would a human prisoner who wanted to look tough and get rid of the gawkers do in his situation? Probably the same thing.
The reason that this particular behavior was so important was that Santino was showing a very clear ability to remember and think about what had happened in the past, and then anticipate and plan for future events. This is an ability which had been widely thought to be exclusively human, but it’s time to either start calling chimpanzees human or admit that other animals may have much greater mental capabilities than we once believed.
Or maybe this is all a mistake and God was just using this poor dumb animal like a robot to stone the horrible sinners at the zoo for him, but more likely Santino just wanted them to leave him alone, and the stones were the best ammunition he had to encourage them with.
Sadly, if it was God using him, and if God had big plans for his future, those plans are probably doomed to failure now because Santino is no longer eligible to enter into the congregation of the lord since he has been castrated (Deuteronomy 23:1). It has curtailed his anger, but what a price to pay!