February 24, 1995

(Photograph) - Aisling Irwin reports from the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Atlanta.

Disoriented: the case of `hybrid' orangutans has raised fundamental problems about our views on racial purity and our treatment of captive animals, according to Ethel Tobach, of the American Museum of Natural History. Until the early 1980s, two geographically isolated populations of orangutan were bred in captivity. Then it was realised that the two groups were at least sub-species and possibly even different species. A moratorium was placed on breeding 'hybrid' orangutans. Sterilisation of the hybrids was recommended and "hybrids became, in some cases, undesirable, "second-class" apes".

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