By Elise H. Peltier

The Human Society rallied enough animal supporters to raid capital hill and despite efforts by the university and pharmaceutical companies, the New Iberia Research Center will close its quarters as of today.

NIRC has one month to find homes for the 6,500 primates. Because the Human Society emphasized these animals are so close to humans, it was requested that the chimps should move in with people.

Members of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity were the first to volunteer their house.

"We had an extra room already and figured there are enough guys here to make it a group learning effort," said Conan Mooney, house monitor. "Plus, a few of our guys are in the biology department and plan on working with the professors.

The plan is to incorporate several departments to make this a new community project regarding human/animal living spaces. The psychology, sociology and biology departments already have an outlined plan of research on the interaction and transition phases.

"We want to see if these chimps live a better life in homes rather than cages," said Dr. Robert Seuss. "Plus, we want to eventually see if the coexistence leads to understandable forms of communication between the primates and people."

Mooney said the first week of cohabitation was more rough on the students.

"Fred (the chimp) has stayed up every night beating the walls because he actually likes to be around people," he said. "He chills on the couch while we play XBox. 'Grand Theft Auto' is his favorite game so far. But when we want to go to bed, he gets pretty mad and beats on the wall until someone gets up."

Seuss described this reaction as "transitional traumatic adaptation."

"Fred should get over this within the next few weeks, but we still find it curious that he likes Grand Theft Auto so much," he said. "This could be a factor as to why he is beating the walls as opposed to simply screaming. But we have observed his behavior to other games; it's just not the same."

Besides gaming devices, members of PKS have tried to teach Fred human hygiene techniques, such as brushing teeth and hair.

Experts are questioning the human projection and cultural implications, wondering if this really could speed the evolutionary track of the primates.

"If this really does work, the ramifications could be glorious!" Seuss exclaimed.

So far, Fred hasn't chosen to perform these actions without being prompted, but all are hopeful.

Because the project is going so well and there are so many chimps left to find loving homes, NIRC is now taking applications for interested volunteers. The former financial backers are willing to donate starting costs to those chosen to adopt their new furry friends.

Mooney said he would recommend the task, but preferably during the summer when the student has a little more time to work with their new family edition during the transitional period.

There is an open house today for those intrigued individuals. Call 482-CHIMP for more information.