We love to throw parties for the chimps’ birthdays at the sanctuary. After over five years at CSNW, we’ve really seen how the chimps are “aging backwards” with each passing birthday—which is just all the more reason to celebrate! For five out of the seven, we celebrate an honorary birthday because we don’t know their actual birth dates, either because they were captured in the wild, or because their records are so scarce.
We commemorate Jody’s honorary birthday every year on Mother’s Day because she had nine babies in the lab in nearly as many years, more than any of the other females at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.
One of Jody’s children, Levi, was born this day 30 years ago. He is now the same age as Burrito.
I’d love to say that we will be celebrating today in his honor, but Levi is not in a sanctuary. He is still living in a laboratory. Levi was one of the small group transferred from Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico, to Texas Biomed in San Antonio a few years ago.
This was the only note written in Jody’s record, on his day of birth “11/23/83 — Delivered healthy infant male #88… removed and taken to nursery (Levi).”
Levi didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with his mother, and there is more and more evidence that points to how important it is for chimpanzees to be with their mothers. A recent study looked at a group of free-living male chimpanzees who were separated from their mothers, and 87% of the sample group died earlier than the expected lifespan.
Levi is still alive, but it’s unlikely that his birthday will be any different than any of the last 29 birthdays that he has lived in laboratories.
Levi and the approximately 866 other chimpanzees still in research in this country deserve to be in sanctuary.
As many of you know, the NIH announced that they are planning to retire about 300 of their chimpanzees. Just this week congress passed an amendment to the Chimp Act which increases the spending cap on federal sanctuary support, and it’s currently on the President’s desk waiting to be signed. This is a good step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
Be sure to subscribe to the Eyes on Apes Take Action Alerts to be notified when we need to voice our support for the release of chimpanzees still imprisoned in laboratories.
Jody in the lab:
Jody in sanctuary: