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Sanctuary Activist: Care, Education & Advocacy Three years ago, Foxie, Missy, Annie, Burrito, Jamie, Jody, and Negra sat alone in a windowless basement in eastern Pennsylvania, not far from the AAVS offices. This group of seven chimpanzee friends had no fresh air, no sunshine, and no toys to play with or blankets for nesting. On June 11, 2008, the seven began a twoday trek across the country to Cle Elum, Washington, where their second chance at life awaited. At Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW), Foxie discovered that she loves troll dolls (yes, those dolls with the crazy hair); Jody perfected the art of relaxing; Negra touched the Earth and felt sunshine on her face for the first time since she was captured in Africa; Missy and Annie decided that spending the whole day laughing and playing really is the ideal lifestyle; Jamie took charge of the chimp group and her new human caregivers; and Burrito, the only male, focused most of his attention on food—fresh fruits and veggies, spaghetti, oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches, and more. The Cle Elum Seven arrived at CSNW quiet and aloof. Their skin was pale, their hair was thin, and their eyes were vacant after decades as unwilling subjects of biomedical research. Today, they are confident, silly, noisy, rowdy individuals with plenty of personality. They have choices about their world, like whether to make a nest and nap, play with a friend, or impress our volunteers and staff with dominance displays that involve banging, throwing objects, and panthooting. But caring for the chimpanzees is just a portion of what we do at CSNW. Our mission is to provide lifetime quality care for formerly abused and exploited chimpanzees while advocating for great apes. Key to this

10  2010 Animal Sanctuaries

mission is the fact that CSNW does not “just” provide care. It follows a three-part strategy to bring about tangible progress for chimpanzees everywhere. First, of course, is providing unparalleled care for the chimpanzee residents. Second, CSNW educates the public regarding the plight of captive and free-living chimpanzees. Third, CSNW advocates for chimpanzees. By combining care with advocacy and education, CSNW is able to participate in the solution. Without advocacy aimed at ending the use of chimpanzees in harmful industries such as biomedical research and entertainment, existing sanctuaries will continue to fill up as chimpanzees are discarded to make room for new subjects. Taking a holistic approach and combining these three elements is crucial to the protection of chimpanzees today. True chimpanzee sanctuaries have the expertise to advocate for chimpanzees from an informed position—we know what their lives are like firsthand. We have seen them transform from zombies to joyful individuals. We have seen the side effects of decades in research. And we know how important our job is: there are about 1,000 chimpanzees currently in biomedical research and over 200 chimpanzees in roadside zoos, private homes, and the entertainment industry who desperately need our voices. For example, the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA) would retire chimpanzees in biomedical research supported by federal funding and would outlaw the use of all chimpanzees in invasive testing. CSNW has supported this legislation by informing our supporters and encouraging them to help by meeting with legislators and by inviting representatives to visit the sanctuary to see what chimpanzee retirement is all about. United States Senator Maria Cantwell sent a staffer to visit the sanctuary, and Cantwell’s introduction of GAPA to the Senate included the statement, “In my

PHOTO Courtesy of Chimpanzee sanctuary NorthWest

By Sarah Baeckler and Diana Goodrich

AV Magazine Issue 3 2010  
AV Magazine Issue 3 2010  

Animal Sanctuaries A Place to Call Home