Chimpanzees are well-known as highly sociable and intelligent animals, very closely related to humans. In fact, we share 98 percent of our DNA with them. Despite this, however, chimps have endured horrendous cruelty at our hands for many years. In the earliest zoos, chimps were frequently forced to don outlandish costumes, entertain guests, and parade through the premises in chains. In unaccredited zoos and roadside attractions, many of these abuses have continued to exist up to the present day … and even in the zoos that are considered more “reputable,” captivity takes a considerable toll on these animals’ physical and mental wellbeing. Stereotypic behaviors such as self-harm, abnormal repetitive actions, and unpredictable bouts of aggression have frequently been observed in chimps and other animals who are held captive in tiny enclosures.
As if that weren’t bad enough, chimps are also used as research subjects in laboratories. This involves being subjected to painful and often completely unnecessary procedures in order to test products intended for sale by the cosmetics or pharmaceutical industries. Last year, they were granted “endangered” status under the Endangered Species Act, which means that it is now illegal for U.S. labs to perform any experiments on chimps unless it can be proven that they will benefit the species’ conservation. This requirement will outlaw the great majority of tests currently being carried out on these animals … but there is still a long way to go until all chimps can be free from the horrors of laboratory testing.
The Chimpanzee Sanctuary North-West (CSNW), located in Cle Elum, Wa., is dedicated to helping chimps who have been rescued from abusive situations. Their mission is to “envision a world where chimpanzee sanctuaries are no longer needed,” as sanctuaries “are only necessary in a world where chimpanzees are exploited and then discarded.”
Until this kinder world is achieved, CSNW is dedicated to providing their chimps with all the love, respect, and care that they require. Many of their residents – even those who arrived from the most horrendous situations you could imagine – have flourished and thrived under their guardianship. Diana Goodrich, CSNW co-director, believes that “chimpanzees can teach us all to be more human” … and a recent blog post from the sanctuary has revealed just how deeply she and the other carers love their resident chimps.
In this moving post, Keri, one of the chimps’ carers, wonders whether “Annie knows that her days full of anxiety are a thing of the past.”
It is tempting to wonder what, indeed, is going through this beautiful girl’s mind as she relaxes and enjoys the sensation of being free.
Keri also asked, “Does Missy know that she will never be confined to a space the size of a bathroom stall again?”
It looks like she can’t get enough of her playground!
“Does Negra know that Young’s Hill will be open for her to come and go as she pleases each and every day?” Keri asked. “And does she know, that for the rest of her days, whenever she looks up, she will be able to see the sky overhead?”
Keri’s beautiful tribute to the chimps is enough to bring a tear to anyone’s eye.
She also expressed the hope that Foxie, below, realizes that “her beloved dolls will never be taken from her.”
“Does Jamie that this will always be her home to patrol and protect?” she wondered.
“And does she know that she will always be the one to call the shots?”
Keri ended the post with this heartfelt wish for CSNW’s chimps: “I can only hope each day they wake up knowing that the day is theirs to choose to do what they wish, whether it be running and leaping, resting, grooming, playing or gazing out of the windows to the valley below. I hope they wake up with a sense of hope and wonder for what the day may bring. And I hope that at the end of each day, they can close their eyes, knowing they are safe in the comfort of their forever sanctuary home.”
Judging by the above photographs, it seems that the chimps have at last found the blissful, relaxed lives that they truly deserve. None of them will ever have to worry about used as laboratory test subjects, or entertainment props, ever again. To find out more about the incredible work of CSNW, visit their website or Facebook page. You can make a donation here.
All Image Source: Chimp Sanctuary North-West