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Press Conference "Basic Rights for Great Apes – Life Behind Bars"

Presentation of the basic rights initiative and the GAP study on great apes in German zoos on May 8 in the House of the Federal Press Conference


Photo: Colin Goldner

The right of the great apes to personal freedom, life and non-torture is to be enshrined in the German Basic Law. This is the aim of a basic rights initiative which will start on Thursday, May 8, with a press conference in the House of the Federal Press Conference. A current study on the living conditions of great apes in German zoos, which will also be presented at the press conference, shows how urgent the need for action is.

Colin Goldner, head of the German section of the Great Ape Project (GAP), which works for the interests of our closest animal relatives, has visited and analyzed over the past two years all 38 German zoos that keep great apes. The results of the study, which is now published with the title "Lebenslänglich hinter Gittern" ("Life behind bars"), are disturbing: With only a few exceptions, the housing conditions in German zoos are catastrophic. Chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans suffer from the confinement of their compounds, the lack of retreat and the blatant lack of stimuli for activities, many show symptoms of massive mental disorders.

Various organizations supporting the Great Ape Project, including Menschen für Tierrechte (People for Animal Rights), animal public, the Albert Schweitzer Foundation and the Giordano Bruno Stiftung, take the publication of the GAP study as an opportunity to present their campaign "Basic Rights for Apes in the Constitution" to the public.

Participants of the press conference at the House of the Federal Press Conference:

  • Dr. Colin Goldner, head of the Great Ape Project Germany, who outlines the central results of his study;
  • Prof. Dr. Volker Sommer, professor of evolutionary anthropology at University College London and head of the Gashaka Primate Project in Nigeria, who explains the demands of the initiative from a primatological point of view;
  • Laura Zimprich, chairwoman of animal public and animal rights expert in the Commission for the Federal Ministerial Mammalian Report (which will be officially presented on May 7), will explain why the new requirements (especially with regard to gorillas etc.) fall far short of the minimum requirements;
  • Prof. Dr. Dieter Birnbacher, chairman of the Central Ethics Commission at the German Medical Association, who comments on the basic rights initiative from a philosophical perspective;
  • Dr. Eisenhart von Loeper, who as an (animal) lawyer was significantly involved in the inclusion of animal protection in the Basic Law (paragraph 20a) and provides legal grounds for the new initiative;
  • Dr. Michael Schmidt-Salomon, philosopher and bestselling author ("Hoffnung Mensch", "Keine Macht den Doofen"), who coordinates the campaign "Grundrechte für Menschenaffen in die Verfassung" (Basic Rights for Great Apes in the Constitution) as spokesman of the Giordano Bruno Stiftung.

The press conference in the conference centre of the Federal Press Conference (Schiffbauerdamm 40, 10117 Berlin, Room I and II) starts at 11.00 am. All interested parties are sincerely invited to attend the conference. The speakers are also available for individual interviews. As the number of seats is limited, please register by sending an e-mail to: presse(at)

Invitation text as PDF (in German)

Digital press kit (in German):

Additional material (in German):

Press contact:

  • Elke Held (gbs business manager), Phone: +49 (0)651 9679-503, Fax: +49 (0)651 9679-6602, Mobile: +49 (0)174 9809516, Mail: presse(at), Internet:
  • Dr. Colin Goldner (Great Ape Project), Phone: +49 (0)9444-8709656, Fax: +49 (0)9444-8709656, Mail: info(at), Internet: