Pushing Boundaries Between Animals and Humans In the 21st century, there is still no all-encompassing concrete definition as to what species of animals are considered domesticated and what species are considered wild. I have decided to examine the current boundaries in place between animals and humans, while also illuminating the issue of human intervention in the lives of typically "wild" animals, particularly primates. The boundaries between humans and animals are continuously being pushed, and in most cases, there is a negative outcome for both parties. Using the case studies of Travis the chimpanzee, this article will examine the relationship between pets and their owners by using the concept of flexible personhood discussed by Shir-Vertesh in his article about pets in Israel.
The definition of a domesticated animal is not a clear one, however, there are some historical guidelines and scientific evidence that can give us sense as to what animals are better suited for domesticated living and which are not. Animals that are most commonly accepted as domesticated have undergone significant genetic, behavioral, and some morphological changes from their wild ancestors'; while other species have changed very little in appearance from their ancestors, despite many years of selective breeding. Selective breeding is the process in which humans breed other animals and plants for their particular traits. An example of selective breeding is how the dog came to be domesticated; dogs developed from packs of wolves that came into contact with European hunter-gatherer settlements, at an estimated 18,000- 34,000 years ago (Yong, 2013). Research suggests that humans and wolves began to form a bond through hunting and companionship, which then led to humans breeding certain wolves for their favorable traits, eventually resulting in the creation of the domesticated dog. The history of domesticating animals has always been a gradual one, and even now, there is no definite answer as to when a species can be considered fully domesticated. In this particular case, wolves chose to be around humans, but what about the animals that do not have choice?