It’s Mother’s Day.
At the sanctuary, our celebration of this special day always includes a birthday party for Jody. Her actual date of birth is missing from her original records, but the date aligns with both Jody’s history as a biological mother and her honorary status as the group’s “den mother.”
Like Jody, Annie, Foxie, Missy and Negra (four of the sanctuary’s eight female chimps) also had offspring during their tenure as “breeders” in the laboratory. Altogether, we believe they gave birth to at least twenty-five infants. The newborns were each taken from them shortly after birth by the company that owned the chimps, and the separated infants were destined to be raised by humans in nurseries and sold as biomedical research subjects. At the time, this was a life sentence for chimps.
As advocates began to successfully pressure the laboratories to retire their captive chimpanzees from research, some of the aforementioned offspring were lucky enough to find sanctuary homes. In fact, Missy’s daughter Honey B found her way to CSNW thirteen years after her mother- almost three decades after they were pulled apart at birth. The two don’t seem to recognize each other or have any special bond, which is unsurprising given that chimpanzee social bonds are maintained through lifelong interaction and communication, not mere genetic relatedness or physical likeness. Still, they sometimes behave in ways that reveal some similarities that may be more than just coincidence, giving a bit of magic to their familial relationship.
I won’t add much more since we have written about this topic in the past and I feel like other staff could offer more heartfelt and insightful perspectives than mine. All I have to say is that, as someone who watches Jody interact with her companions and surroundings on a daily basis, she is a natural protector and shepherd to all around her.
Jody would have been an excellent mother to those nine children. She got robbed of that experience, and so did they.
The gravity of that injustice cannot be expressed through any words that I know.
The best that we can do now is provide Jody and her friends with a safe and comfortable sanctuary home, with opportunities to live a fulfilling life, and tirelessly advocate for non-humans who are still being exploited elsewhere.
So, on this well-deserved Mother’s Day, we celebrated not just Jody but all the mothers in our lives who have helped us to grow, learn, and live meaningful lives. We’re thankful that you exist and we love you all.
Finally, since I was unable to take many photos while filming the embedded video, Chad was willing to share some images he captured of the big event!
P.S. Just in case you missed the usual title pun, I almost named this post “JO Mother, Where Art Thou?” but decided to keep it a bit more serious this week. I’ll think of something really corny for the next post. I promise.