JAKOB SCHNETZ
PHOTOGRAPHER

GERMANY (2018)

Story about Robby, the last chimp in a german circus.

From 2011 until November 2018 a court procedure took place between the veterinary inspection office Celle, the animal welfare organisation PETA and the Circus Belly deciding the future of 47-year old chimpanzee "Robby" at the Higher Administrative Court Lüneburg.
It had been criticized the chimp were humanized, maladjusted and did not have species-appropriate living conditions.

Robby had been born in a circus, separated from his family and raised by humans. At the age of four he had been taken in by the director of the circus Belly, Klaus Köhler. Since then, the chimp had had no contact to other apes, living with humans and animals like dogs, goats and ponys. He had taken part in various shows of the circus. Today, he is retired but still lives in the enclosure in the circus, spending time daily with his human adoptive family, as Köhler states.

While the veterinary inspection office Celle and PETA demanded to resocialize the humanoid ape for species-appropriate living conditions, Klaus Köhler appealed at law.
The veterinary Alexandra Dörnath, who observed Robby over a long period of time, judged the humanoid ape to be irreversibly affected by humans. According to Dörnath Robby perceives himself as a human being, having also adapted human behaviour patterns.
As such he is adapted to his current living conditions, a change of which would be extremely stressful and possibly harmful for the aged ape.
Köhler won the case and Robby will be remaining in his care.

The court procedure opened a nation-wide debate about the individual fate of Robby and animal keeping in circuses in general.

 
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