Foxie has become quite the celebrity. As Diana mentioned in her blog post several days ago, the story of Foxie’s history, her life in the lab, and her subsequent discovery of her love for troll dolls and Dora the Explorer and has been shared in The Dodo and the Huffington Post. Since then her story continues to travel the globe and has been seen in the Daily Mail, KOMO News, the Berliner Kurier to name a few, and most recently, ABC News. And it seems there’s more to come! We are thrilled to see Foxie’s story being shared and the opportunity for so many people to learn about all that she has overcome since arriving to her sanctuary home.
As the stories relate, and you may be aware, Foxie was used in part as a “breeder” during her time in biomedical research (in addition to being used in hepatitis vaccination research, as were Annie, Burrito, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra). Foxie gave birth to four children, two daughters and two sons, a rare set of twins. All of whom were taken from her immediately, or shortly after birth, to continue their own lives being used as research subjects.
It’s hard to imagine such unfathomable loss and suffering. And yet, most of us can relate on some level. I think that is why Foxie’s story touches so many of us. And the fact that she has become so enamored with her beloved trolls and Dora the Explorer only appeals that much more to our hearts. While the dolls of course, will never make up for the loss of Foxie’s children, knowing that she’s found something that makes her heart light up and upon occasion direct her mothering instincts toward is immensely heartwarming.
But something that I hope also comes from this opportunity for more people to learn about Foxie’s story, is the opportunity for more people to learn about other chimpanzees with her history. For as truly special as Foxie and her story are, this is the story of every chimpanzee in biomedical research, and in fact, for every animal in biomedical research. This is the story of animals in the entertainment and pet industries, factory farming, and countless other arenas where animals’ lives, intelligence, emotions, families, communities, and well-being are seen as less valuable than ours.
Every time I see someone’s heart and mind open up when they learn of Foxie’s story, I am given hope that those who feel inclined to do so will seek out more information, ask questions, and consider how they can make a difference in the lives of others by the choices they make in their own. Because I can tell you, no matter how small you might feel what you have to offer is, it can make a huge difference to someone else.
This story is also that of Annie, Missy, Jody and Negra who also had their children stolen from them in the same manner. All of their children have been deprived of being raised and nurtured by their mother, being part of a chimpanzee family in which they learn important social skills and experience family bonding. Annie gave birth to 7 children, Jody gave birth to 9 children, Missy gave birth to 3 children and had one miscarriage, and Negra gave birth three children. And although Jamie and Burrito are not parents to any children we are aware of, they are not exempt from the devastating loss of family.
By this time, you might be thinking, “Katelyn, we don’t want to read all of this heartbreaking stuff!” I get that. But I also invite you to look beyond the painful things toward what you have helped provide these chimpanzees and hopefully, those to come in the future. All around us are examples of how resilient the human spirit is. And thanks to you, we get to see on a daily basis how resilient the chimpanzees’ spirits are when given the space to heal. They inspire me every single day. In short, they are my heroes. I am grateful to my bones that they each finally get the opportunity to find things that make their hearts and souls sing. Whether it’s a cowgirl boot, open spaces to run to one’s hearts content, a best friend, fresh food, a cozy blanket nest, or yes, a troll or Dora doll. Thanks to you, each one of these very special people is provided with love, care, dignity and family.
Today, after a couple weeks of a seemingly endless wild rumpus of stormy weather, things have lulled and the sun even made an appearance. Annie, Foxie, Jody, and Missy were first onto the hill (yes, even before Jamie!) to stretch their legs and enjoy the fresh air. I watched them for a long time as they moved over the hill together, these chimpanzees who have become family for one another. Each enjoying their own activities, but staying within sight of one another, quick to offer backup or reassurance over perceived threats to their home, in this case, barking pups below and hawks calling out above. (Jamie eventually sauntered right past me and headed off to patrol the perimeter all on her own and Burrito chose to enjoy the greenhouse).
Annie enjoyed a long awaited sit in the sun. I love how relaxed her hands are and my heart melted a little when she sat gazing up at the sky.
Jody (above) and Foxie (below) checked out the entire length of structures together:
Just as Jody was headed back in after her stroll on the hill, she stopped on high alert and ran to back-up Missy from the dreaded dog barking.
Jody and Missy patrolled the perimeter together and once it was certain the threats had been averted, Jody headed back to the warmer greenhouse and Missy continued exploring:
And Negra chose to remain comfy and warm in her nest, knowing all is well:
The traumas we are all inflicted with at some point in life always leave their marks. But so does hope. So does dignity. And so does love.