This sanctuary is full of mothers. We spent the day honoring them.
For those of you who may not already know, five of the sanctuary’s ten chimpanzee residents (Annie, Foxie, Jody, Missy, Negra) were used for breeding in their past lives as biomedical research subjects. All of their children were taken from them immediately after birth, thus denying them the ability to care for and raise their offspring. Their infants were raised in laboratories as a scientific resource, but this practice was incrementally brought to a halt. Some of their sons and daughters made it to sanctuaries where several are still enjoying their retirements.
Missy’s daughter, Honey B, was transferred to this sanctuary last summer when the facility that previously cared for her, the Wildlife Waystation, permanently shut down. It was unfortunate that so many individuals lost their homes, but it was serendipitous that we were finishing a new wing of enclosures exactly when Honey B and her companions needed it most. (Note: The sanctuary community is currently raising funds that will care for the Waystation’s remaining chimpanzees and help create new homes for them at reputable sanctuaries. You can visit this page to learn more!) Missy and Honey B were able to meet, but it’s unlikely that they recognized each other. Amid the drama of attempting to integrate their two groups, their face-to-face meeting was relatively uneventful. Still, we sometimes notice that Honey B has a tinge of Missy infused in her personality and appearance. There are many ways in which they differ, but Honey B occasionally behaves with a Missy-like flavor. Notably, they both play chase the same way. Today, Chad managed to capture portraits of the two in the same pose and posted it on the sanctuary’s Instagram, so you can all see it for yourselves.
Today’s festivities weren’t centered around that relationship alone. Every year, we celebrate Jody‘s birthday on Mother’s Day. Nobody knows Jody’s real birthday, but we do know that she gave birth to nine infants during her time in the laboratory. All were taken from her. We would never allow the chimpanzees to breed since we would be furthering a practice that we aim to end and condemning yet another chimpanzee individual to a life of captivity. Nevertheless, Jody possesses a tender maternal spirit and serves as a guardian and peacemaker within her group of seven adult chimps. It seems like Jody was born for motherhood and, despite her tragic past, she has found a new way to fulfill that duty with enthusiasm.
The chimps aren’t the only ones who have brought new life into this world. The sanctuary’s small herd of four cattle consists of two mother-offspring pairs; the enormous steer Nutmeg is Betsy’s son and Meredith is Honey’s daughter. Among the humans, current staff members Erin and Anna are mothers to children of their own when they aren’t busy caring for chimps. Recently, we received the good news that our friend and former coworker, Keri, joyously welcomed her second child, Skyler, into her family. This is just one of the many ways by which the CSNW family continues to grow.
For all of these reasons and more, today is an important day to celebrate mothers of all species, whether they were allowed to raise their own children or not.
Chad, our Enrichment Coordinator, assembled a celebratory forage of lilac flowers, corn, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes. Honey B and Mave tried lilacs for the first time and loved them, although Willy B wouldn’t even give them a taste and seemed way more interested in climbing the outdoor structure yet again. Of course, Jody savored her floral snacks while her six companions scoured the Hill for caches of food. As a whole, the chimps thoroughly enjoyed the midday celebration and spent most of the afternoon resting and foraging in the warm sunshine of late spring. I have included some photographs of today’s events (taken by Katelyn, Chad, and I).
Whether you are a mother or not, we hope you enjoyed this celebratory Sunday and showed appreciation for the people who shaped you into the person you are today.