Diana and I recently had the pleasure of reading Phoenix Zones, a new book by a good friend of the sanctuary, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian. In it, Hope shares the lessons she’s learned about building strength and resilience throughout the course of her incredible career as a human rights physician and animal advocate. The book is filled with stories demonstrating how humans and other animals can recover from trauma and heal – a process known as the “Phoenix Effect” – if we attend to certain key principles such as love, dignity, justice, and respect for liberty. Phoenix Zones, by extension, are the places where these principles are put into practice, and where those suffering from trauma can rise from the proverbial ashes to find peace and hope.
One example of a Phoenix Zone that Hope discusses in her book is Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. Her story focuses on Negra, who was stolen from her family and endured 35 years of unimaginable suffering but now exemplifies the power of Phoenix Zones promote healing and resilience in even the most traumatized individuals.
It’s easy to forget just how far Negra has come. This morning, we found her enjoying sweet spring grass near the top of the hill, a place that she had feared not so long ago.
A key message of the book is that physical and emotional recovery are only possible when we are free to make our own choices, when we are able to live with dignity, and, perhaps most importantly, when we have a sense of hope. Negra’s story should inspire hope in all of us.
Diana and I will be joining Hope for a discussion of her book at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle on April 30th. If you live nearby, we hope to see you there!