The physical similarity between humans and other members of the "great apes" is striking. Indeed, the genetic similarity between humans and chimpanzees is more than 98 percent. For such reasons, people feel a great affinity with primates and the great apes in particular, and often provide special protection from these animals being mistreated or used in experiments that cause physical pain or emotional distress. However, this does not mean the gulf between humans and apes is small. Humans have a complex language, use symbols in communication, write and read books, have set up diverse systems of governance, have developed complex technologies including computers, satellites, TV, and electric light, and so forth. While anatomical similarity and DNA analysis may dictate that humans should be classified as primates and as apes, consideration of the whole personality demonstrates that human beings are far different from apes than apes are from other primates, or indeed other animals.
Despite the obvious gulf between humans and primates, there are efforts to consider humans "only" primates, such that other great apes should be considered "persons" and be accorded certain "rights." There are claims being made that it is artificial to consider a gulf between humans and "animals" such that it makes it appear that a chimpanzee has more in common with a turtle than with a human. While genetic and physical analyses may support such a claim, the reality is that, by the very nature of reading this encyclopedia, one would have to say that humans are indeed qualitatively unique from other animals. While we may share physical instinct, we also have major cultural, psychological, spiritual, mental, and emotional differences. For religious traditions, this difference is manifested in humans having a soul or spirit, and in the humans being accorded the role of stewards of creation. But even without the religious dimension, the fact that no animals (or no "other animals") share anything like human creativity, emotional depth, self-awareness, complex language and technology, and historical awareness places humans in a very special position in creation.
That being said, it is clear that humans have a special affinity for others classified as apes. Unification Thought holds that a person feels joy from being able to experience his or her nature through another object. The more similar that object is, the more one can experience his personality. That is, one can experience one's personality more fully through another person, then through similar primates, and so forth. For such reasons, humans have accorded more protection to primates than to say, invertebrates. Few complain about the act of putting a worm on a hook to fish, but causing pain to another primate is a concern to almost all humans, second to causing pain to another human being.