Animal Studies Journal


Do chimpanzees dance? Or even more particularly, did the chimpanzees of the Kakombe valley, observed by the primatologist Jane Goodall, dance when they approached an eighty-foot waterfall? Furthermore, is this, as Goodall averred, an ‘elemental display’ that could be understood as an originary variant of religious ritual? My six-year old youngest daughter has a deep and varied knowledge of animals, especially wild animals. She is also a dancer, not only of ballet but also jazz and kapa haka (Maori cultural performance). Although pumas are her favourite, her interests constantly expand. So when she asked what I was reading and I stated it is about chimpanzees dancing, she, in this age of Youtube, wondered if she would be able to see them do so. Sure enough, it was easy to find footage of the Kakombe valley chimpanzees approaching and responding to the waterfall: