Today is my 50th birthday, and originally I was going to post about that milestone, the last 15 years of my life at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, and the GiveBIG fundraiser that ends on May 3rd.
Unfortunately, I have some other, more challenging news, to share with you all.
Jody was found not moving in one of the front rooms on her side of the building. Dr. Erin was able to do an exam quickly and we obtained x-rays and drew blood, but these did not tell us what exactly is going on. You can imagine, if you know Erin at all, that she has been on the phone constantly, consulting with veterinarians and human doctors across the continent and trying to arrange for an MRI and spinal tap for poor JoJo. Her symptoms are consistent with a cervical spinal injury. There was not a conflict and no obvious signs that she fell (though we can’t rule that out), so it’s possible there’s just something happening within her body that is impacting her spine. An MRI will tell us more, and we hope to get her to an amazing clinic Tuesday morning if not earlier.
I know everyone who just read those words are absorbing a lot right now. I’m so sorry. I know how much you care and that this is not what you want to be learning about today.
This is one of the hardest aspects of caring for anyone, and there are things about caring for captive chimpanzees that make these situations more challenging. It’s very difficult to see Jody in this state. She is a strong-willed, independent, no-nonsense chimpanzee who, I think, would be happy to have never met a human being, and now she is dependent on us in ways that she never could have or wanted to imagine. That’s not to say that she doesn’t have friendships with the humans in her life. She does. Us humans are doing everything we can to convey to her that all we want to do is help, and to comfort her in ways that continue to respect her independence and dignity and show our love to her, Jody, the chimpanzee person we know.
We don’t have enough information to provide a definitive prognosis or to answer the many questions you probably have.
We know of many other chimpanzees in sanctuary settings who have been in a similar states and made partial or even full recoveries. For this reason, and because we have seen the indomitable will of chimpanzees in action before, we are cautiously holding onto some hope.
Jody is a 47 year old chimpanzee who has embraced the last fifteen years of her sanctuary life with her eyes wide open in wonder and her arms full of sanctuary abundance – be that blankets or food foraged from Young’s Hill. Please think of her this way.
And definitely do consider making a GiveBIG donation in her honor. It seems almost crass to suggest that, but the reality is that your donations provide Jody with the care that she needs. Without donors, Jody would not have had the last fifteen years that she was afforded at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. There’s a reason we chose the image below as our main GiveBIG image this year. Just look at how much happiness she was experiencing as the camera shutter clicked when this image was taken:
Here are some more Jody moments that supporters made possible: