Jersey, a chimpanzee at Save the Chimps, is busy checking herself out in a mirror – not very different from what you or I do when standing in front of the mirror, especially if, like her, you’re a 13-year-old with lots of friends and family!
Mirror self-recognition requires a relatively advanced level of cognition. Human babies generally can’t recognize themselves in the mirror until they’re at least 18 months old. Dr. Lori Marino, Science Director at the Nonhuman Rights Project, explains what this tells us about chimpanzees and other animals, including elephants and dolphins, who can also recognize themselves in mirrors.
“Knowing that the person you’re seeing in the mirror is you demonstrates a sophisticated level of cognition because it is conclusive evidence that you know there IS a YOU. And this is evidence for an ongoing stable sense of self-awareness and autonomy.”
(By autonomy, we mean that you have desires and can make decisions and act on those desires about your own life – what you want to do, where you want to be, and so on.)
More videos are on the sanctuary’s Facebook page. Here’s one of Roady checking himself out on the shiny screen of his caregiver, Niki’s phone. Niki writes:
The chimps often love to see their own reflection in unbreakable mirrors or on camera screens & will groom themselves and check out their teeth & tongues when they get the chance to see their own face.