This is a truly remarkable story with huge implications about how these animals should be treated. I have topped and tailed it here.
Spitting and urinating chimps ‘replay Aesop’s fable’
The study was carried out with gorillas and chimpanzees.
The primates were presented with a vertical glass tube, which was secured to a cage so it could not be moved or broken. At the bottom was a peanut, floating on a small amount of water.
They were also given access to a water dispenser.
The idea was that the animals would take water from the dispenser in their mouths, and then spit it into the tube to raise the water level.
It would take several visits back and forth between the dispenser and tube to gather enough water to get to the peanut.
The team found that none of the five gorillas was able to complete the task.
Chimps however were more successful. Out of 43 chimps, based in the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, in Uganda, and Germany’s Leipzig Zoo, 14 worked out that they needed to take the water in their mouths and spit it into the tube, and seven did this enough times to successfully obtain a peanut.
Dr Hanus said the study highlighted the chimps’ ability to solve problems.
He explained: “You cannot explain it by trial-and-error learning. They weren’t just spitting water around the room and some fell in by accident.
“Instead, they were standing in front of the problem, trying to work out the solution – at first by trying to use their fingers, or trying to break it.
“But some, then went to the drinker and got the mouthful of water and came back and spat it directly into the tube, and a few did it enough times to get the peanut.”
Here is a short video by me on a similar subject (with the help of Douglas Adams)..