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An Ontology of Animal Minds

Chimp on Trial

After its success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and British Science Festival, Dr Lewis Dean (St Andrews University) brought his Chimpanzee on Trial show to Durham as a public event. The show, supported by the Primate Society of Great Britain, enables the audience to act as jury in determining whether a chimp, who has killed another chimp, can be found guilty of murder. Is there any evidence that his animal mind is capable of planning to kill another, and if so, can he possibly be aware that this is morally wrong? During the trial, Dr Lewis Dean and Dr Kate Cross (St Andrews University) acted as defence and prosecution lawyers quizzing the expert witnesses who included specialists in chimpanzee cognition and culture as well as in philosophy of morals and law. The presiding Judge, played by DJ and comedian Alfie Joey, was assisted by the Clerk of the Court, Dr Rachel Kendal (Durham University). On the night, the audience of around 130 acted as jury and voted overwhelmingly for the NOT GUILTY verdict.

For further information see:

For the press release click here.

The Chimp Trial, lasting one hour, took place on Tuesday 19 April 2016 at 6pm at Durham Union's Debating Chamber on Palace Green.