Chimpanzees and War for the Planet of the Apes

The recent remakes of PLANET OF THE APES began with RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011), DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014), and just released is WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. The ascendance of apes has come at the cost of humans. The apes have become more civilized and the humans more savage. Both are fighting to dominate the planet, as Earth does not seem to be big enough for apes and humans. In the film, Woody Harrelson is the Colonel trying to re-institute the United States and Andy Serkis stars as the ape Caesar who is grappling with fighting or fleeing from the humans.

Twentieth Century Fox, which is releasing the film, is supporting a Rehabilitation Center for chimpanzees in the Republic of the Congo. The center, run by the Jane Goodall Institute, is named after Caesar. In the film, he is constantly searching for a safe home for the apes. “Almost of [the chimpanzees] come from Republic of Congo,” Dr. Rebeca Atencia wrote to Science & Film about the chimps at the Center. “All of them were victims of the bushmeat trade. The Congolese authorities confiscate them and bring them to us for their care.”

Dr. Atencia is the Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institue in the Congo and a veterinarian at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center at which the new Caesar housing is situated. Based in the Congo, Dr. Atencia “tries to sensitize local populations [to chimpanzees] with public awareness campaigns. These include more than 70 billboards around the country, placed in strategic places as roads and principal streets. We try to put them close to places such as schools, police stations, rail stations, and markets. We also air documentaries and television series with educational messages about wildlife conservation, most of which are addressed to young people. Another way is through one-on-one connections with Jane Goodall Institute staff who serve as rangers and who patrol the Tchimpounga Reserve (where the sanctuary is located) but also sensitize the people of the nearby village. Finally, we do several conferences, expositions and meetings with general public, the police, and military.”

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, Dr. Atencia wrote, “allows the public to live, suffer, and experience the story from the point of view of a great ape which is not bad, because this can generate empathy toward these amazing living beings. Always we see the world from our minds; but, what would it happen if we were not humans but animals? Sometimes it is complicated to imagine, but this movie offers us this possibility.”

The Jane Goodall Institute was founded in 1977 by Dr. Jane Goodall. It works with communities world-wide to protect chimpanzees. There is currently a Sloan-supported biopic in development about Jane Goodall by Kendell Klein. For more, see a behind-the-scenes look at the visual effects used to create the apes in WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. The film is in theatres as of July 14. It is directed by Matt Reeves, and written by Reeves and Mark Bomback. Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, and Amiah Miller star.