Run for cover, ape pulls the trigger on an AK-47

Posted on July 16, 2011


This video (see below) has gone viral. More than 8 million people have viewed it and it’s sparked a debate as to whether it is genuine or a fake. It’s also believed to have been released in the run-up to the new film Rise of the Planet of the Apes out next month.

The short film clip shows a chimpanzee coming into a camp with West Africa soldiers who are all holding rifles. One gun-toting “idiot” (would you give a loaded gun to an animal that has the ability to pull the trigger?) hands over the AK-47. In a matter of seconds, several rounds have been fired off and everyone has scarpered except for the cameraman who’s now cowering behind a log.

Is it reasonable to think a chimp could do this? It may not have the rational behind pulling a trigger, but great apes have amazing cognitive skills. If they can strip a twig of leaves, to push it down a termite nest, to fish for “food”, then pulling a trigger is a no-brainer.  Whether that action is then repeated on a “conscious” level because it understands the power behind holding a weapon – is highly improbably.

Recently I posted pictures of macaques in Sulawesi, that had taken self-portraits on a wildlife cameraman’s unmanned equipment. Primates are curious animals they will investigate things that are foreign to them. It does not mean they understand what they are doing, there is little, if any scientific evidence to support this sort of behaviour and any around, may at best be anecdotal.

But this video may indeed be a fake. If a round had been fired off, it’s likely that the chimpanzee would have dropped the gun from the shock of the noise and run away. I’ve fired a gun when I was in Nam. I wasn’t aiming at the Viet Cong, mind you. During a holiday to Ho Chi Minh I visited the Củ Chi tunnels, on the tour you can have a go at firing different rifles. Not only is the noise ear-drum shattering but the impact on your shoulder as the rifle is let off is pretty hard. So if an ape is holding the gun (bearing in mind it has no past experience to go on) when the trigger is pulled, it would need to know to have good control of it.

Also letting off a few shots may have been possible but not several rounds. There is also the argument that perhaps this is the camp’s “pet” so it may well have become habituated (accustomed) to the sound of gun-fire and through observation may be imitating what it has witnessed from its closest relatives – us.

Frightening thought though!!! Anyone else care to discuss?