Chimpanzees Found to Engage in Habitual Drinking

August 3, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. engage / ɛnˈgeɪdʒ / (v.) – to be involved in something
Example:  I do not want to engage in any suspicious business.

2. habitual / həˈbɪtʃ u əl / (adj.) – doing an action repeatedly or regularly
Example: The employees were asked to stop their habitual gossiping.

3. ferment / fərˈmɛnt / (v.) – to undergo chemical change to produce alcohol
Example: This wine is fermented for several weeks.

4. intoxicated /  ɪnˈtɒk sɪˌkeɪ tɪd / (adj.) – under the influence of alcohol
Example: Anna was very intoxicated after drinking two bottles of red wine.

5. altruism / ˈæl truˌɪz əm / (n.) – the practice of showing concern and desire to help other people
Example:  I am amazed by his generosity and altruism.


Read the text below.
Researchers have discovered that a group of chimpanzees in West Africa engage in habitual drinking.

After observing the animals for 17 years, researchers found this phenomenon among some chimpanzees in Bossou [BOS-soo], a southeastern town in Guinea [GIN-ee]. The researchers were able to film the chimpanzees while drinking the sap of raffia [RAF-ee-uh] palms.

Based on observation, chimpanzees visit the local raffia palms on a regular basis. Local communities harvest the sap of raffia palms by cutting a section in the trees. The locals place containers below the cut section to catch the white sap, which ferments into alcohol in a few hours. The chimpanzees drink the fermented sap by dipping a leaf, which they had chewed to turn into a sponge-like pad, in the container.

Although they could not conclude that the chimpanzees were intoxicated, researchers thought that the amount of sap consumed by the animals was enough to get humans drunk. Some chimpanzees even showed signs of drunken behavior. While most fell asleep after drinking, one chimpanzee was restless, swinging from one tree to another.

Aside from engaging in habitual drinking, previous studies found other similarities in the behavior of primates and humans. One study from the University of St. Andrews and Heriot-Watt [HER-ee-uh t wot] University found that capuchin [KAP-yoo-chin] monkeys learn altruism the same way children do—by watching their peers.

Like humans, macaque [muh-KAK] monkeys can also recognize their kin’s facial features, like in instances where pictures of other macaque monkeys are digitally altered. This was based on a study by experts from the Max Planck [plahngk] Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What are some possible concerns about the chimpanzees’ habitual drinking?
·         How do you think the chimpanzees’ newly discovered behavior affects the local communities who harvest the sap?

Discussion B

·         What other human traits would you like a chimpanzee to learn? Why?
·         Do you agree that humans originated from apes? Why or why not?

August 3, 2015