Hoot for Chimps

I recently attended Hoot, benefit gala for the residents who live at Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW. The gala was at Bell Harbor, an event space on Alaska Way in Seattle, with views of Puget Sound. What a wonderful excuse to dress up!

My husband and I started the evening by buying raffle tickets from our friends Carol and Rachel, who were volunteering at the event.

raffle

We listened to a live band while perusing the auction items and learning about the chimps’ interests and habits at interactive stations. I visited all seven stations and had my chimp passport stamped so I could enter a drawing.

At the stations we learned about Foxie’s love of troll dolls. That Jodie likes to make nests out of blankets. Jamie is the boss. Burrito loves food. Negra is besties with Burrito. Missy loves playing chase. Annie likes to wrestle.

Friends of ours bought a table’s worth of tickets so we could all sit together. In exchange for their generosity, and instead of paying them back, they asked only that we spend money at the gala. Done and done!

I bid on several items at the silent auction and won a Lush gift certificate and a gift certificate for Café Flora. During the live auction, which happened during dinner, I won a two nights’ stay at Someday Farm vegan B&B! I can’t wait to go.

Speaking of dinner, the all-vegan feast was scrumptious. I was happy that there weren’t meat dishes. People helping some animals by eating others doesn’t make sense to me. Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW got it right. We ate a wonderful tomato salad, lasagna, and best of all, cake from Violet Sweet Shoppe.

vegan dinner

Dessert was offered in a contest of sorts. The table that pledged the most money got to pick first. There were 20 tables and 20 cakes. We were 10th in line, and we got our peanut butter chocolate cake! But honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything Violet Sweet Shoppe makes.

Violet Sweet Shoppe's vegan cakes

The entire evening was smoothly run. There were lots of opportunities to contribute, but it was all fun, and never felt like a sales pitch. The wine was flowing, which I think was an effective way for people to loosen their purse strings! When all was said and done, we raised $179,000.

It’s important to remember that the evening was about seven wonderful animals who suffered for decades as research test subjects. I wrote about them in an earlier post. Please read their stories. The least we can do is provide some semblance of normalcy in their golden years. Humans made their lives a living hell and we owe it to them to give them the best lives possible. The gala raised a lot of money for the chimps, but with voracious appetites and regular vet needs, running the sanctuary is expensive. If you can, please make a donation. The gala is over for this year but the bills won’t stop coming in.

Visiting Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW

Yesterday I had the privilege of being a guest at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. The sanctuary, 90 miles east of Seattle in the beautiful Cascade mountains, is home to seven former biomedical test subjects who now live out their days in peace and free from harm. It’s not a zoo (it’s set up for the chimps, not for visitors) and I was lucky to be able to stop by.

Young's Hill

I had a hard time imagining the sad existence these intelligent, curious creatures had to endure for a quarter century. They lived (if you can call it living) twenty-four hours a day in a steel cage like the one I’m standing next to. It’s almost the same as me living in solitary confinement in my bedroom closet.

size of cage

A cold metal cage with slats for waste to fall through was the only environment they had. They were warehoused indoors, away from sun and fresh air–all in the name of science. I’ve written before about why I don’t agree with animal testing, and these chimps are seven more reasons why I want it stopped.

The sanctuary is home to Jamie, Annie, Jody, Foxy, Missy, Burrito, and Negra. I visited over the lunch hour and watched the chimps forage for a meal. Volunteers hide food over Young’s Hill, the chimps two-acre outdoor enclosure, so they have an experience closer to how wild chimps find food.

chimps on termite mound

The chimps enjoy lots of fresh fruit and veggies and they enjoyed the sunny fall day, as they wandered through the grass looking for treats. There’s even an artificial termite mound so the chimps can use tools to pull treats out of tubes in the structure.

lunch on the mound

Some of the chimps, like Negra, and possibly Jody and Annie, were born in the wild, and saw their families get slaughtered so people could take the babies–them–to be used as pets or research subjects.

looking for snacks

Others, like Jamie, Missy, Foxy and Burrito, were born in captivity. Burrito lived in a human home for his first four years, but was then rented out to an animal trainer and later sold to a research lab. He’s the very reason I do not support companies or movies that use primates in their commercials or films. The chimps they use are babies who have been stolen away from their families and will likely end up in research when they’re too old and unruly–or simply warehoused and left to suffer alone.

lunchtime

Jody, Annie, Foxy, Missy, and Negra were all used as breeders and had several babies each taken away from them to be used in experiments too. It’s heartbreaking to think about how they must have grieved over their losses.

hammock

When they’re not enjoying the great outdoors (and safely behind an electric fence), the chimps have a great indoor space to enjoy. They play with toys, color and paint, and make chimp nests out of blankets. They’re making up for lost time.

veggies for lunch

This group of chimps came from the same lab and knew each other in their previous lives. They’re seniors now and deserve to live life at whatever pace they choose. Sometimes that means running around full of energy; other times, it’s relaxing in front of the window and watching the world go by,

social time

The chimps have been deprived their whole lives and are at the Sanctuary to heal and become whole again. They’re still very much wild animals so they’s no direct contact with them. They’re finally free to choose how and where to spend their time, and that’s a valuable thing,

chimp on logs

Over 900 chimpanzees are still in research labs around the USA–down from 3000 at the height of primate research. Only the USA and Gabon still test on chimps. You can help wild and captive chimps by joining Eyes on Apes and participating in action alerts to stop testing, poaching, and using chimps in entertainment.

lab cage

May all chimps one day see blue skies, not barren steel.

A win for chimps

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced that it has accepted the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation of retiring over 300 of its chimpanzees. The US has been experimenting on chimpanzees for 90 years and is the last country in the industrialized world to do so. This news has been a long time coming.

Pumpkin, a 24-year-old chimpThe chimps’ similarity to humans makes them coveted for research, but it’s this very similarity that poses an ethical dilemma. Besides, chimps are different to many ways. They have different immunities and reactions to diseases and drugs. For example, if chimps are purposefully infected with HIV, they rarely even show symptoms of AIDS. We can’t help humans by using animal testing models.

Regardless of similarities and differences, no animals should be used as research subjects, so it’s a great piece of news that most of the chimps will be retired.

The news is mixed though. Fifty chimps will remain with NIH. They won’t be bred, but that’s not enough. These intelligent, self-aware beings deserve to live out their lives at a sanctuary like Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW. Each one is an individual with unique traits and should be given the right to live free from harm and experimentation. It’s the least we can do, even though we owe them far more than that.

Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW has written about the NIH decision. I’ll be on the lookout for petitions to free the remaining 50 and I’ll post links to one as soon as I find it.

Help protect chimpanzees

Good news on the horizon: The US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing that chimpanzees in the US be added to the federal endangered species list.

chimp on wikimediaRight now, wild chimps are listed as endangered while their captive cousins are listed as only threatened. This means people can breed, sell, ship, and experiment on captive chimps in the US.

Adding captive chimps to the endangered species list would change that and would help chimps in zoos, circuses, and in the entertainment industry.

Changing their status will prevent chimps from being used in invasive medical testing procedures and from being taken across state lines. It would also ban the international commerce of chimps.

The Humane Society, Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW, and The Jane Goodall Institute all back the proposal.

You can read the press release from Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW and an article by the Washington Post for more about the chimps’ plight.

Take Action!

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public feedback about the issue. Please visit this Humane Society page, add your comments, and sign the petition asking US Fish and Wildlife Service to help all chimpanzees by applying Endangered Species Act protections to captive chimpanzees.

Thank you!