Courtesy Reuters

CHIMPANZEE POLITICS

In the world's largest captive chimp colony at the Burger's Zoo in Arnhem, Netherlands, a struggle worthy of Machiavelli unfolded during the late 1970s. As described by primatologist Frans de Waal, the aging alpha male of the colony, Yeroen, was gradually unseated from his position of power by a younger male, Luit. Luit could not have done this on the basis of his own physical strength, but had to enter into an alliance with Nikkie, a still younger male. No sooner was Luit on top, however, than Nikkie turned on him and formed a coalition with the deposed leader to achieve dominance himself. Luit remained in the background as a threat to his rule, so one day he was murdered by Nikkie and Yeroen, his toes and testicles littering the floor of the cage.

Jane Goodall became famous studying a group of about 30 chimps at the Gombe National

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.

Subscribe
  • Francis Fukuyama is Hirst Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University. His book, The Great Disruption, will be published in 1999.
  • More By Francis Fukuyama