We’ve been talking a lot about Jamie recently. She provides us with a lot to talk about, both on this blog and amongst the staff and volunteers at the sanctuary. We’ve told you about her artistic side, her love of cowboy boots, the challenges she presents to her caregivers to keep her busy mind active, and we’ve reflected on her complicated personality. There’s one thing that I sometimes mention to people when talking about Jamie in person. It’s something that I was thinking about as I took the photos below, and I don’t think I’ve shared it on the blog yet. So here it is –
I think Jamie is acutely aware of her captivity. I don’t say this about all of the chimpanzees. I don’t think Foxie, for example, with her goofy, please-everyone personality, thinks about how unfair it is that she is on the other side of the fencing from the humans, that we make a lot of decisions for her, and that we go off somewhere else at the end of the day. It’s impossible to know for sure, but I believe Jamie is very aware of all of these things, and she knows it’s not fair. I agree with her. Chimpanzees don’t belong in captivity. We do the best we possibly can with the resources we have to provide a happy life for the Cle Elum Seven, but we could never provide them with everything, especially the true freedom that they deserve (If you’re wondering why we don’t offer the chimps more freedom, take a look at this blog post and the link in it about the true nature of chimpanzees).
But things are getting better. More and more people are accepting the simple truth that chimpanzees don’t belong in captivity. The release of the NIH Council of Councils working group report the other day could be a watershed moment for chimpanzees in biomedical research in the United States, and the growing awareness of who chimpanzees are and what they deserve has played a huge role in this moment. It’s the countdown to the end of chimpanzees in biomedical research, and, in fact, someone is counting down – Lori Gruen launched a new website today called the Last 1,000. It is a list of all of the chimpanzees still in research and a tracking of these individuals from lab to sanctuary by highlighting their name or number in green. Lori’s already been able to highlight some of the chimpanzees who went from New Iberia to Chimp Haven just this week.
Though chimpanzees do not belong in captivity, those who are deserve the best quality of life we can provide them. Thank you for being a part of providing for Jamie.