Jamie spent her childhood living with a trainer. Her records are scarce, but she was most likely used in some form of entertainment before being purchased for use in biomedical research at around the age of nine. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating to see chimpanzees (or any wild animal) robbed of their natural lives, their childhood, and their family and social structures in order to provide so-called “entertainment” for humans. While we cannot change the histories the chimpanzees have experienced, or the fact that they will be in captivity for the rest of their lives, we do our best to provide them the space to be themselves, exactly as they choose in every minute of the day. A safe, dignified and loving home in which their “chimpanzee-ness” can come out.
We give the chimpanzees a variety of enrichment each day to keep their curious and intelligent minds engaged as much as possible, but whether they play with it, nest with it, tear it up or ignore it, it’s their choice. Jamie is highly intelligent and most likely as a result of her unnatural history, she is also very human oriented in her interests. She will often choose to use enrichment in ways that the other chimps don’t. But that’s the key – she gets to choose. When Jamie first arrived here she periodically chose to wear clothing that was included in enrichment, but over time her desire to do this has faded away and thankfully been replaced by chimp like activities such as walking the perimeter, playing with her friends, and being the boss of us all. But given her unnatural history, it’s only, well, natural that she would still incorporate things that are familiar to her in her play from time to time.
So while supervising the cleaning of her home from atop her barrel, this was one of Jamie’s choices:
An upside-down-Jamie-on-a-barrel is always a happy Jamie.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help end the exploitation and abuse of great apes, please check out our advocacy program, Eyes on Apes, and sign up for our Take Action Alerts. Just as Jamie once did, there are others who need your voice.