What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
The least I can do is speak out for the hundreds of chimpanzees who, right now, sit hunched, miserable and without hope, staring out with dead eyes from their metal prisons. They cannot speak for themselves.
In what terms should we think of these beings, nonhuman yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics? How should we treat them? Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes? Yes.
But let us not forget that human love and compassion are equally deeply rooted in our primate heritage, and in this sphere too our sensibilities are of a higher order of magnitude than those of chimpanzees.
We can't leave people in abject poverty, so we need to raise the standard of living for 80% of the world's people, while bringing it down considerably for the 20% who are destroying our natural resources.
Chimps can do all sorts of things we thought that only we could do - like tool-making and abstraction and generalisation. They can learn a language - sign language - and they can use the signs. But when you think of our intellects, even the brightest chimp looks like a very small child.
War had always seemed to me to be a purely human behavior. Accounts of warlike behavior date back to the very first written records of human history; it seemed to be an almost universal characteristic of human groups.
In 1975, when my students were kidnapped by rebels, I was accused of hiding instead of trying to save them, and of not giving enough money for their ransom. I wasn't believed.
Certainly, if you look at human behavior around the world, you have to admit that we can be very aggressive.
There are certain characteristics that define a good chimp mother. She is patient, she is protective but she is not over-protective - that is really important. She is tolerant, but she can impose discipline. She is affectionate. She plays. And the most important of all: she is supportive.
When I look back over my life it's almost as if there was a plan laid out for me - from the little girl who was so passionate about animals who longed to go to Africa and whose family couldn't afford to put her through college. Everyone laughed at my dreams. I was supposed to be a secretary in Bournemouth.
When I was 10 years old, I loved - I loved books, and I used to haunt the secondhand bookshop. And I found a little book I could just afford, and I bought it, and I took it home. And I climbed up my favorite tree, and I read that book from cover to cover. And that was Tarzan of the Apes. I immediately fell in love with Tarzan.
Most Africans don't get to see these wild animals at all. Once they see and learn about them, they are much more likely to become involved in protecting the environment.
Chimps are very quick to have a sudden fight or aggressive episode, but they're equally as good at reconciliation.
My mother always used to say, 'Well, if you had been born a little girl growing up in Egypt, you would go to church or go to worship Allah, but surely if those people are worshipping a God, it must be the same God' - that's what she always said. The same God with different names.
But does that mean that war and violence are inevitable? I would argue not because we have also evolved this amazingly sophisticated intellect, and we are capable of controlling our innate behavior a lot of the time.
Certainly the first true humans were unique by virtue of their large brains. It was because the human brain is so large when compared with that of a chimpanzee that paleontologists for years hunted for a half-ape, half-human skeleton that would provide a fossil link between the human and the ape.
It has actually been suggested that warfare may have been the principle evolutionary pressure that created the huge gap between the human brain and that of our closest living relatives, the anthropoid apes. Whole groups of hominids with inferior brains could not win wars and were therefore exterminated.
It was both fascinating and appalling to learn that chimpanzees were capable of hostile and territorial behavior that was not unlike certain forms of primitive human warfare.
Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.