Annie is looking so serene and confident out on Young’s Hill these days.
Posts Tagged ‘primate rescue’
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently posted photos of himself and his family members holding a baby chimpanzee to his Facebook page. The chimpanzee is showing his or her top teeth in this photo, which is actually a fear grin—not a smile.
Chimpanzees are not pets! They are wild animals who should be with their mothers when they are young, and who are dangerous when they get older. Seeing chimpanzees in close contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated like pets.
We’re so disappointed that Gordon Ramsay is promoting the exotic animal trade rather than using his celebrity status to protect chimpanzees, who are critically endangered in the wild.
We want Gordon Ramsay to remove the Facebook photos of the baby chimpanzee. Please send a polite letter to him, c/o his publicist Staci Wolfe, letting him know that chimps should not be used for photo ops alongside humans. Please urge Ramsay to remove all the photos from his Facebook page and promise to never host a visit with a chimpanzee again.
You may send your letter to Gordon Ramsay c/o Staci Wolfe at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample Letter to Gordon Ramsay:
Dear Mr. Ramsay:
I was disappointed to hear that you took photos with your family holding a baby chimpanzee and posted them to your Facebook page. You should know that when chimpanzees show their top teeth it is a sign of distress, not happiness.
Chimpanzees provided for photos ops to pose with humans are torn away from their mothers as infants, often repeatedly beaten during training, and then discarded when they become too strong to be managed.
Using a chimpanzee for a photo op sends the message that these amazing beings are simply props. When people see you holding a baby chimpanzee, they assume that chimpanzees make good pets. Though chimpanzees may seem cute and cuddly when infants, they become dangerous as they get older. They are an endangered species that should be protected, not used for entertainment.
Please make the compassionate decision to remove the photos, and pledge to never pose holding baby chimpanzees again. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.
[Your name here]
If you send an e-mail to Gordon, please remember to BCC Eyes on Apes at EyesOnApes@ChimpsNW.org for tracking purposes. Thank you!
A story appeared recently in the Daily Mail and Good Morning America showing images and video of two young chimpanzees, Vali and Sugriva, going to the theater with their “handlers” and watching the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The irony is that the two young chimpanzees were exploited for this publicity stunt, and brought into a theater to watch a movie that purposefully avoided using live ape actors… (Read more on Care2)
For more on the training facility Vali and Sugriva live at, visit our trainer page on Eyes on Apes.
Thank you to Care2 for posting our op-ed on this issue! Please share the article with your friends and get the word out that chimpanzees do not belong on either side of the theater screen.
Tonight is our very first Hoot! gala event and I’m so excited to see everyone. I hope you all are ready to Give a Hoot! tonight! And don’t worry, for those of you that aren’t able to make it to the gala, we are going to have an online auction later this summer so everyone can participate.
Yesterday I posted about Jamie’s huge paper nest, but I left out a couple photos that Elizabeth took that day. She captured Annie initiating some play by biting on the handrail of the stairs in the playroom, right above where Jamie was nesting. Missy couldn’t resist her invitation and of course started play slapping and wrestling immediately. They didn’t seem to mind that Jamie was trying to perfect her nest just inches away—and luckily, Jamie didn’t seem to be disturbed, either.
We’ve posted about the enrichment theme “lots of paper” before, but it never gets old with the chimps. They love it, so we try to work that theme into each month—so long as we have extra paper to spare. Yesterday we had plenty, including a bunch of paper from some boxes that were shipped from Amazon when people sent us supplies we needed from our wishlist. You probably didn’t know you were helping us stock the shelves AND enriching the chimps at the same time did you?
Jamie definitely appreciated the extra paper, and we threw in some crepe paper, toilet paper, and a big roll of red paper for additional nesting materials. She built the biggest paper nest I’ve seen! It was an all day project that she returned to a few times to perfect her comfy spot.
First, she started with the brown paper from the Amazon boxes and added the giant roll of red paper.
She abandoned it at one point (probably to go on a perimeter walk of Young’s Hill) and you can see just how elaborate it is:
Later she returned and added some toilet paper, which she reportedly had wrapped around her like a mummy but when the paparazzi (Elizabeth) arrived she quickly brushed it off herself. The toilet paper added a nice softness to the nest and she curled up with some boots to take a mid-day nap.
One of our missions at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is to advocate for apes everywhere, which is why we developed the program Eyes on Apes. The idea is to have one centralized area for people to learn about issues that apes face both in captivity and in the wild, while providing tools for you to take action.
One thing we just added were some pages on individual trainers in the entertainment industry. This is a really nice resource for people to have when you hear about a chimp in a commercial or movie and are curious what it is like for them with their trainers. Each page lists facts about the trainers, any relevant USDA citations, and links to our action alerts about productions these trainers were involved in.
Please share this site with your friends, and help raise awareness for apes everywhere! You can ask them to sign up for our Take Action list in order to get action alerts and help make a difference for apes everywhere.
Take a look through all the pages—there’s been some makeovers throughout the site, like this informational map showing the current vs. historical population of African apes:
And, since this was a little bit of a wordy post, I thought I’d throw in a picture of Negra from this morning’s breakfast forage on Young’s Hill:
In her previous post, Dr. Gwendy Reyes-Illg introduced us to her work with the story of Margot. Here she talks about reintroductions from Afican sanctuaries back into the wild, and some information on how we can help. The sad reality is that many of these chimpanzees simply cannot be reintroduced to the wild because they have suffered too much trauma. No captive chimpanzee in the US has been successfully integrated into African forests—it is nothing like what they are used to. The same can be said for any chimpanzee who begins life in captivity, even if they live in Africa.
Have you witnessed apes experience successful reintroduction and rehabilitation?
Each chimpanzee is a unique individual, and their responses to trauma vary widely. Chimpanzees who were only in captivity for a short while before they were rescued are very different from those who were subjected to years of life as a “pet.” The former seem to have an easier time integrating with the other chimpanzees once in a sanctuary, while the latter are sometimes abnormally bonded to humans and may have a harder time finding their place in the group. Despite their gradual psychological recovery, they may still exhibit stereotypical behaviors, such as rocking or over-grooming.
Sanctuary life is much better than being in the hands of poachers or “owners.” Solitary confinement, the norm for most illegally-held primates, is one of the most miserable situations in which a social animal can find herself. In sanctuaries, primates have others of their own kind with whom to bond and interact. They are given a variety of healthy foods and fresh water. Oftentimes, they also form close relationships with caring staff members.
The sanctuaries I have volunteered for and visited in Africa differ greatly in the conditions in which the apes live. Some sanctuaries provide large tracts of forest where the apes can explore, play, build nests, etc. They are rarely seen during the day, coming near the cages only for feeding time. Other sanctuaries are much smaller, and caregivers must enrich the smaller area they have available to keep the primates stimulated and prevent boredom. Because most African sanctuaries rely on solar power for their electric fences, the apes must come inside at night so they will not escape when the power to the fence gets too low. Aggression can be a problem, especially in close inside quarters.
I have always been enamored with the idea of reintroducing chimpanzees to the wild. In theory, it seems to be one way to right all the wrongs our species has inflicted on these creatures. Reintroduction is liberation, emancipation. Unfortunately, the reality of chimpanzee reintroduction is much more muddled, both logistically and ethically.
The African sanctuaries I have worked closely with are still struggling to find a suitable release site—an area where reintroduced chimpanzees could find the resources they need to survive, without being killed by hunters, or by a well-established group of wild chimpanzees. This is a common challenge for sanctuaries hoping to reintroduce apes to the wild. In addition, apes who have been in captivity for any length of time may harbor infectious diseases that could endanger wild populations.
The actual “release” is just the beginning—not the end—of a life-long commitment to the animals: reintroduced apes must be fitted with tracking devices and constantly monitored for the rest of their lives. This is because they are inevitably habituated to people and areas uninhabited by people are almost impossible to find; to prevent human-ape conflict, crop-raiding, etc., releasers must ensure the reintroduced animals are not moving toward villages or farmland.
A fairly high percentage of chimpanzees die shortly after they are released, even with all the measures in place to prevent this. And after many years in a sanctuary environment, reintroduction may be a stress- and distress-causing event, at least initially, for the individuals involved. Finally, the financial costs of reintroduction project can be very high, and some might argue that limited resources would be better spent on individuals remaining in sanctuaries and on efforts to protect animals still in the wild, for example, by protecting forests or educating people.
Still, reintroduction may be the right option in certain situations. Successfully released apes have many options and freedoms not available to those in sanctuaries. They can roam where they choose, and are free to spend time with individuals they prefer and avoid those they don’t get along with. They do not have to depend on people for food, water, and other necessities. Chimpanzees reintroduced to the wild avoid the sometimes unpleasant husbandry and medical procedures that are an almost universal part of sanctuary chimpanzee life.
Another freedom that comes with reintroduction is the freedom to reproduce and raise offspring. Contraception is used in most sanctuaries because they do not wish to subject more animals to a life of captivity; in addition, every “vacancy” occupied by captive-born animal is not available for one who needs to be rescued. Once in the wild, reproduction not only enriches the lives of the mother and other group members, it also pulls the species a little further away from extinction in the wild—predicted by some to occur for chimpanzees in as little 15 years.
Finally, because reintroduction projects capture the hearts and imagination of many people, they can help draw attention of the plight of apes in general. Local people living in a proposed reintroduction site are “sensitized” to the idea of protecting the apes being released and this may have a ripple effect that gradually helps foster positive attitudes in the larger population.
What can we do to help?
Limited resources are one of the biggest challenges for sanctuaries, especially those in developing countries. People who want to help can donate equipment, supplies, time or money to help meet sanctuaries’ daily needs and help expand education and outreach programs. Many sanctuaries accept volunteers for extended periods, even individuals who have never worked with primates before. Since my work has a veterinary focus, I approach distributors, manufacturers, and practitioners in the hopes that they will donate medications, equipment (such as anesthesia monitors, ultrasound machines, and fracture repair instruments), and medical supplies to bring to the sanctuaries where I work.
In addition, it is important to examine how we might unintentionally be contributing to the tragedy of orphaned chimpanzees. When considering buying wood products, it may be worth looking into the source; logging companies seeking wood for Western markets contribute to the problem both by cutting roads into remote, formerly inaccessible areas of forest and by transporting illegal bushmeat out of the forest. In addition, they sometimes do not provide enough food to their workers, leading some individuals to resort to hunting primates and other wild species.
Finally, taking action on issues that harm primates in the U.S., such as medical research and use in the entertainment and pet industries, has a ripple effect for chimpanzees, gorillas and other primates still in their native regions. These campaigns always need supporters and even people with limited time to contribute can help raise the profile and the moral status of primates in our society.
These pictures were taken at three of the sanctuaries Gwendy has worked for: Limbe Wildlife Centre (in Cameroon), In Defense of Animals—Africa’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center (in Cameroon), and the Jane Goodall Institute South Africa (Chimp Eden).