Jo Jo looked down from the
rainforest canopy. He checked lower branches for
all members of his chimpanzee troop. As alpha
male, he took his responsibility for troop
welfare very seriously.
He glanced at the human
compound, far below. He noted the lavish
facilities: the swimming pools, the saunas and
myriad serving staff. He also sensed the heavy
air of sadness and foreboding that had been
intensifying during past weeks.
Jo Jo recalled that
atmosphere five years ago, just before all
compound occupants had left and been replaced by
excited and joyous newcomers.
Curiosity had led him then
to follow the wagons transporting the earlier
He had been horrified and
sickened - they were taken to an abattoir and
Viewers of BBC wildlife
documentaries retain two misapprehensions about
The first is that they are
not very bright. It is true they lack the
evolutionary advantages of some cerebral
functions - such as advanced speech.
Nevertheless, they possess a level of
intelligence and reasoning which is easily
superior to that, for example, of backbench
The second misapprehension
is that chimpanzees are violent killers. Jo Jo
lamented the dreadful publicity his species had
received following David Attenboroughs film
of a troop killing a monkey. Jo Jo had known Ca
Ca, the leader of that troop. He had been a
dangerous psychopath since chimphood. For
Attenborough to conclude all chimpanzees acted in
that way was like citing Hitlers behaviour
as typical of humans. Jo Jo, and most of his
kind, were peaceable vegetarians.
Following the human
massacre, Jo Jo frequented the compound,
listening to conversation snippets from the new
arrivals. He had learned the rudiments of English
from the BBC World Service on a wind-up radio
dropped by an eco-tourist.
Jo Jo gradually understood:
An English broadcaster, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall,
had asserted that humans made a contract with
farm animals. Humans ate the animals, but
fulfilled their contractual responsibilities by
caring well for the creatures during their lives.
Vegetarian animal rights
lawyers had argued this was an invalid contract,
as the animals could not exercise informed choice.
It was concluded, however, that it was reasonable
to eat volunteer humans in exchange for a five-year
period of unstinting excess.
The commercial value of the
delicacy easily funded development of secluded
luxury holiday farms.
The desperate and
disadvantaged volunteered in droves. During the
first four years, they lived their perceptions of
Heaven on Earth. As the end of the fifth
approached, however, the ghoulish consequences of
their Faustian pacts took form.
Jo Jo was unimpressed by
contracts. He abhorred killing or violence
towards any creature. He had formed the Human
Jo Jo had, however, heard
radio recordings of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr and
had profoundly understood the relationship
between peaceful ends and peaceful
means something, he reflected, that
some humans in similar movements had tragically
Jo Jos call
transformed the hush of the evening rainforest
into a kaleidoscope of noise and action. Hundreds
of chimpanzees converged on the human compound,
tearing down fences and gates. The reprieved took
control and began to plan their freedom.
Peace returned to the
Jo Jo and the troop rested
briefly before moving on.
They would reach the next
compound by dawn.