We’ve started to put the finishing touches on the veterinary clinic. This project, like many others here at the sanctuary, was kicked off with generous gifts from Karen and Don Young. It was completed with support from the National Anti-Vivisection Society and Marsha Perelman, and with gifts made at our annual gala from donors too numerous to name but equally as important.
Earlier this summer, our friends at Poppoff, Inc. donated their services to install sidewalks around the facility. This also allowed us to widen our entry gate and mount it on a wheel so that it would be easier to get the clinic trailer and other vehicles in and out of the security fence.
Just recently, we built a pole barn shelter for the trailer to protect it from the elements. None of us are excited about the fact that winter is approaching, but at least we will be prepared!
Speaking of preparedness…just look at the lengths that our volunteers will go to help us make sure we are prepared for any emergency. After we finished the sidewalks, volunteer Becca played the role of a chimpanzee as CSNW veterinarian and board member, Donna, and I did some drills with our newest stretcher donated by our local fire department. I promise that no volunteers were harmed in these drills, though we appreciate the courage it took for Becca to be our test subject.
Finishing up the clinic has made me think a lot about where we are as a sanctuary. To be honest, there are times when progress at the sanctuary can feel painfully slow, if only because our hearts and imaginations are always one step ahead of our wallets. But then I remember that it was only six years ago that a small community of people with very limited resources was able to free seven chimps from the laboratory basement where they had been housed for decades. And in the time since, as that caring community has grown, we have transformed the chimps’ home, filling it with light from chimp-proof windows and warmth from greenhouse panels, and giving those seven chimps their first experience of grass underfoot and sky overhead on Young’s Hill.
We’ve been experiencing a lot of that grass and sky lately. Hikes around Young’s Hill have only grown more numerous and more frequent over the years – always spurred on by Jamie, but lately joined by Missy, Burrito, Jody, and Foxie. It’s quite a climb to the top, especially when it’s the tenth walk of the day.
But the effort is always worth it, because the view from the top is incredible.
I’m convinced that chimpanzees experience awe. I have no doubt that when Missy looks out across the valley, with the river flowing by and the fall leaves changing color, that she is struck by the beauty and magnitude of it all. And watching her reminds me to step back and appreciate all that our small community has accomplished in such a short time. From a windowless basement to the top of the world in only a few years. And now an onsite veterinary clinic to boot.
Just think of where we can go from here.