Profile in Primatology: Sally Boysen
Sally Boysen is a tenured professor of psychology at the The Ohio State University. She specializes in numerical abilities of non-humans. She has published countless scholarly articles on this subject and is well recognized in her field.
Notable publications include:
Boysen, S.T. & Berntson, G.G. (1989b). Conspecific recognition in the chimpanzee: Cardiac responses to significant others. J. of Comparative Psychology, 103, 215-220.Boysen, S.T. & Berntson, G.G. (1990). The emergence of numerical competence in the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). In: Language and intelligence in animals: Developmental perspectives. S.T. Parker & K.R. Gibson (Eds.). Cambridge University Press. Povinelli, D.J., Nelson, K.E. & Boysen, S.T. (1990). Inferences about guessing and knowing by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 104, 203-210. Boysen, S.T. (In press) Pongid pedagogy: The contribution of human/chimpanzee interaction to the study of ape cognition. In: The Inevitable Bond: Examining Scientist-Animal Interaction. H. Davis & D. Balfour (Eds.). Cambridge University Press.
Sally Boysen at Ohio State
Outside acamadic circles, Sally Boysen is also quite well known. Not too long ago, the Discovery Channel aired a special on some of her work with chimpanzees and literacy. The program was called Keeli and Ivey: Chimps Like Us. It was ably narrated by former Frasier star, Kelsey Grammer.
You can read more about the program and also watch a trailer if you follow the links below.
Link To Discovery Channel Trailer for "Chimps Like Us"
Despite all this success, Sally Boysen and her chimps suffered a tragic setback when, in February of 2006, the Ohio State University closed down her lab, without prior warning, changing all the locks, and had her chimpanzees transported forcibly to a chimpanzee sanctuary.
This was supposedly done because Professor Boysen had not secured enough funding for her lab to continue functioning. Read about what happened in her own words in the link below.
Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think
One of the chimpanzees died on arrival at the sanctuary chosen by OSU. Another died sometime thereafter. A monkey transported with the group escaped into the Texas wilderness never to be heard from again.
A custody fight ensued, in which it was decided by the judge to transport the remaining chimpanzees to yet another sanctuary, where eventually the last remaining male of the group also died.
Following another legal skirmish, the surviving chimpanzees were sent back to the first sanctuary. The second sanctuary is appealing this order.
Without taking a stand on which sanctuary is better, it is sufficient to note that if Sally Boysen had remained in custody of them, then none of the chimps need have died prematurely, and the public would not be concerned about the whereabouts of the missing monkey.
The Columbus Dispatch - Columbus, Ohio's Daily Newspaper
- The Keithville Krewe
Chimp Haven serves as The National Chimpanzee Sanctuary. We are an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide lifetime care for chimpanzees who have been retired from medical research, the entertainment industry or no longer want
What happened to Sally Boysen is not an isolated event. It is part of an ongoing campaign against researchers who work hands-on with great apes. Public funding for this research is being reduced. Even when private funds are made available, universities are being pressured not to allow researchers to accept the funds. When researchers try to move their apes to a private foundation, they can lose the right to go into the enclosures where the apes live. Many private foundations are run by people with zoo experience who believe that direct interaction with apes is not safe.
Sally Boysen needs our support. She is a primatologist under fire.
(c) 2008 Aya Katz