Monkey World director Dr Alison Cronin has launched a stinging attack on the research of a visiting American academic and has urged students in the south to boycott her lecture.

The University of Portsmouth is hosting a visit on Wednesday by Professor Sally Boysen from the Department of Psychology at Ohio State University.

Her lecture on ‘chimpanzee intelligence’ is the result of 35 years of researching the creatures, say university chiefs.

But Dr Cronin says such research is unnecessary and has been conducted at the expense of orphaned chimpanzees that have been removed from their mothers at birth and are then trained to participate in sign language and cognitive experiments.

“In the name of science, this type of research into the intelligence of the great apes has been ongoing since the 1960s and there have not been any significant findings over the past 50 years,” she said.

She added: “The chimpanzees suffers terrible emotional and psychological damage throughout their lives and by the age of five or six develop into anti-social and dangerous wild animals that do not know how to get along with their own kind.”

In one of her most outspoken public attacks to date, Dr Cronin added: “I want to meet the person who is clever enough to learn chimpanzee communication, not the one that abuses their power to force wild animals to behave like themselves.”

Ironically Dr Cronin was sent an invitation to the lecture by the university.

And by coincidence Monkey World is having a private preview tonight of a film produced for the BBC called Project Nim, highlighting the plight of one of the first American sign language chimpanzees.

A statement from Professor Boysen, Leverhume Trust visiting professor in the Department of Psychology at Portsmouth, said: “This statement from Monkey World is both inaccurate and misleading. The body of work by the many researchers in the field, published over the last 50 years, has profoundly informed the scientific world and the public about chimpanzee cognition and evolution.

“The significance of this work has resulted in the establishment of centres such as Monkey World which recognise that apes should not be commercially exploited.

“During the 20 years when I worked actively with chimpanzees, our prime focus was to recognise, understand and meet the emotional and psychological needs of the chimps.”

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