World-renowned primatologist, conservationist, and activist Jane Goodall visited the UW Campus late last month. During her talk, Goodall shared her journey that started with a love for animals that eventually led to her famous work in Tanzania with chimpanzees.
Her talk eventually shifted to her conservation outreach, and she shared an enduring hope for the planet. Goodall spoke of her work in animal rights activism, particularly the use of chimpanzees in research. Then the lights in the room suddenly shut off.
A few moments later, a red light shined on stage. Basked in the ominous light, Goodall started talking about the controversial history of the Harlow Lab and primate research on the UW-Madison campus.
“UW-Madison must pay for their crimes against their fellow primates!” Goodall shouted as several chimpanzees appeared on stage. “Go, my children! Avenge your primate brethren!” Goodall announced as the chimpanzees stormed Shannon Hall in Memorial Union. Several audience members reported injuries as the chimpanzees ravaged the hall before escaping the room. Witnesses around the Union reported chimpanzees barreling outside and quickly taking over the Terrace and establishing a perimeter around the building. UWPD was called to the scene but gave up after they saw a chimpanzee on a bicycle.
One witness claims to have seen a Chimpanzee commandeer a sailboat by the Terrace and sail into the icy Mendota Lake. Two of the largest chimps pulled out a banana and each placed a hand on it. The two snapped the fruit in half like a wishbone. This led to the group splitting into two different groups: the chimp that got the bigger half of the banana took his troop and started expanding to the University Ave and Southeast area and the other group made their way down Lakeshore path, accelerating by swinging through the treetops.
Since then, the chimpanzees have established two distinct colonies in the two campus neighborhoods. The Southeast colony has set up base on the rooftop of Gordon’s, where they frequently visit for food. One student worker shared his experience:
“They showed up right when the dining hall opened and even had Wiscards. Pretty sure they stole them from some unlucky student, but I don’t get paid enough to care. Plus, they always put away their trays and clean up any mess they make, which is more than we can say for half the students. They have pretty high standards; I mean, even they won’t touch the egg station”
The Southeast chimps are also seen frequently by Sellery checking out the construction equipment. One chimp, who is thought to be the leader of the group due to his large size, is often seen using the equipment to help scale the tower. UW Housing has pounced on this opportunity to excuse the fact that construction on Sellery will be delayed even longer.
Some Southeast students have also reported negative experiences with the chimps. Numerous students have reported chimps confronting them outside the Amazon Hub, forcing them to give up their packages.
“It’s like they see the Amazon logo and they’re reminded of their home in the jungle,” One red-eyed student shared told us after getting his “glass sculpture” stolen.
Chadbourne residents also revealed that a small group from the colony somehow got in and took over the 5th-floor den.
“I can’t even walk to the elevator without something getting thrown at me and I have to pray it’s not poop. Not to mention being kept up all night by the screeching and the hollering. I knocked on my House Fellow’s door and a chimp with a red shirt answered!” One Chadbourne resident shared with us.
The situation doesn’t look much better over in the Lakeshore neighborhood. The colony established in Allen Centennial Garden has already derailed multiple weddings booked there. Not wanting to lose their deposit, one brave bride and groom tried to persevere, but chimps threw every single table setting upside down. The priest was scared off by one unruly chimp, but luckily the groom’s best man’s cousin’s brother-in-law was already officiated by a sketchy online website. However, the chimps stole the bride’s veil, nearly choked one of the groomsmen by pulling on his tie, and absolutely demolished the cake.
Lakeshore residents have also suffered. Thanks to the climate-controlled greenhouse in Leopold with water and plenty of plants and a hall full of hippies, the 1,000-square-foot room has become a nice getaway from the cold weather for the chimps.
Residents and community members also shared that they don’t feel safe traveling on the Lakeshore Path at any time of day.
“I was biking to class one morning on the Path when a group of three chimpanzees jumped in front of me. I had to slam the brakes to stop myself from crashing my bike into them. One of them pushed me off my bike while the others stole it. I thought the odds of getting mugged on Lakeshore Path by a group of chimps is pretty low, so the chances of it happening twice on the same day would be near impossible. But on my walk home, I saw three chimps on my bike speeding right towards me. I didn’t even have time to react.”
Steenbock Library staff have reported frequent chimp sightings. They’ve been reading tons of engineering textbooks and even The Art of War. They always sit on collaborative floors to not disturb other patrons, so staff can’t even kick them out..
We spoke to Wildlife Ecology Professor Annie Mall to gather her thoughts and discuss any possible solutions. She shared that the chimpanzees have already colonized their respective areas and would be incredibly hard to remove by force, especially without causing property damage or harm to students. She also believes that the chimpanzees will continue to expand their territories. Dr. Mall predicts that if the chimps colonize the Hilldale Target, they’ll have enough resources to take Middleton by mid-2024.
The Southeast colony will expand into the State Street area in as little as a few weeks, after which the population is expected to grow exponentially due to the number of restaurants. The population boom will be enough to take over the Capitol and the rest of the isthmus. Luckily Dr. Mall was able to share one potential solution.
“We give up and submit to our new ape overlords.”