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Am J Primatol. 2011 Mar;73(3):245-52. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20888. Epub 2010 Oct 15.

Bonding, biophilia, biosynergy, and the future of primates in the wild.

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  • 1The Biosynergy Institute, Palos Verdes, California; The Gorilla Foundation, Woodside, California 90274, USA.


Human and nonhuman primates bond with one another in countless ways, and the results are varied and vital to the individuals and species involved. The manifesto that is the basis for the collection of essays in which this commentary is included proposes that the "human/nonhuman bonds that arise in primatological research and practice deserve and demand study and research." An essential corollary of this proposal is that the primatologists themselves must be studied. The aim of this essay is to explore the influence of human/nonhuman primate bonding on conservation practice and on the future of primates in the wild. This commentary applies the author's professional experience as a conservation psychologist and his research on the impact of profound interspecies bonds on human worldviews, attitudes, and behavior. It examines two general categories of bonds: those driven by Biophilia (human fascination with life) and those influenced by Biosynergy (mutual enrichment of life). It is the author's premise that biosynergy promotes complex collaborative interspecies bonds that broaden the conservationist's desire to enhance synergy among all organisms in an ecosystem. Conversely, biophilia induces relatively simple unidirectional bonds between humans and other animals that deepen the conservationist's desire to understand and protect certain species. This contrast raises some crucial questions. Do biophilia-driven bonds between conservationists and their favorite primates blind them to the synergistic needs of all species and impair their ability to work for sustained preservation of threatened habitat? Does biosynergy-based human/nature bonding enhance focus on conservation as an ecological science and thus ignore species-specific factors crucial to assure survival of endangered primates? How can both types of bonds be optimally applied to the conservation of wildlife and wilderness?

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