Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reunion, Rejoicing, Relief

Darrell, Sarah, Sheba, Keeli, Ivy, Harper and Emma are together again!

(The picture here, taken by Chimp Haven behaviorist Amy Fultz, shows Darrell being touched by Harper and groomed by Sheba. To see more pictures, click here.)

Chimpanzees, like humans, are highly social beings. This aspect of chimpanzee life was the first thing commented upon by the people who originally studied chimps in captivity and in the wild. Providing healthy social environments for captive chimpanzees is critically important for their well-being. They provide each other with support, with stimulation, they learn from each other, and together they can exhibit species-typical behaviors, they can be chimpanzees.

But introducing chimpanzees to one another or re-introducing them after they have been separated is a very complex and often dangerous process. This is particularly so if they experienced additional trauma and distress while separated or isolated, as the former OSU chimps did while at PPI. That the newly dubbed “magnificent seven” were re-introduced without incident and with great playfulness is a tribute to the expertise of the Chimp Haven staff.

Monday, November 20, 2006

OSU should support the chimps at Chimp Haven

In a February 21, 2006, statement about OSU’s decision to close the Chimp Center and send the chimps to PPI (with over $300,000), Robert McGrath, Sr. Vice-President of Research, said, "At one point, we considered dividing the colony and shipping the older animals to the refuge but experts have advised seriously against dividing such a long-standing colony,” McGrath said. “We believe it is best for the animals' welfare to keep them together as a single social group.”

McGrath was right that it is in the best interests of the chimps to stay together, but he and OSU did nothing when Wally Swett separated them immediately and kept Darrell in solitary confinement and kept Emma and Harper away from the rest of the group.

Swett never planned on keeping the animals together, as he admitted even after the move. A November 18th Columbus Dispatch story says:

"Primarily Primates founder Wallace Swett said his attorney had tried to stop the transfer yesterday. He is looking at legal options for returning the OSU chimps to Texas. He said he had plans for the primates, including introducing Darrell to 'three girlfriends' and introducing the younger chimpanzees, Harper and Emma, to older ones."

Fortunately, Darrell, Sheba, Sarah, Harper and Emma are together. Darrell can be out in the sunshine whenever he wishes and Sarah has space to climb. Keeli and Ivy, right next door, will be reintegrated into the group soon.

Please write to OSU and tell them they owe it to the chimps to support them financially at Chimp Haven.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Recooperating at Chimp Haven

Keeli and Ivy were playing chase with Stephany and Klaree yesterday, familiarizing themselves with their new home. The negative effects of months living on concrete, in relatively small enclosures, are becoming apparent. But everyone expects the chimps will fully recover. This weekend was spent exploring, and mostly just relaxing in a state of comfortable relief from their ordeal.

Meanwhile, new revelations about the depth of the problems at PPI were reported in a news story today.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A genuine haven...

Sarah and Sheba were the first to enter their new HUGE indoor/outdoor enclosure. When Harper and Emma timidly entered next, Sheba was especially overjoyed. Together Sheba and Harper motioned to the care staff to let Darrell in and when Darrell emerged he began "laughing." He quickly surveyed the surroundings and he and Harper hugged and hugged. Then as Darrell ran around the enclosure, Harper followed him, grooming every chance he got. Meanwhile, Emma and Sarah climbed to the very top of the very high enclosure. Keeli and Ivy are right next door, and Ivy is poking sticks at Harper and Emma, being the little trouble maker that she is. As you can see here, early worries that Sheba might be so traumatized from her experience at PPI that she wouldn't be able to recover have been put to rest -- her reunion with Stephany and Klaree last month brought her back to health and prepared her for a wonderful reunion with her chimp family today in this remarkable Chimp Haven.

RESCUED! The chimps are safe at Chimp Haven!

After over 8 terrifying months, during which time Darrell was kept in solitary confinement, Sheba and Sarah nearly starved, and all of the chimps were cruelly neglected, the ordeal at PPI has finally ended for the former OSU chimpanzees.

Mid-day yesterday, November 16, an expert team from Chimp Haven began loading the chimps onto a transport truck. Darrell was the first to be moved from his dark cell. He seemed to know something good was happening. Sarah was next, then Sheba, Keeli, Ivy, Harper and Emma. Their initial reunion on the truck was full of excitement.

(This is Harper waiting to leave PPI)

They were escorted off the property and out of San Antonio by the sheriff and arrived at their new home late last night.

Chimp Haven is the very best place for Kermit's Community. OSU should have sent them there originally, and if they had, Kermit and Bobby would still be alive. Thankfully, Linda Brent and her board of directors came through for the chimps. We must now support their permanent, life-long care at this marvelous, genuine sanctuary and help raise funds to rescue more of the chimps from PPI. A special "Emergency Rescue Fund" has been established at Chimp Haven -- click here:

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Food Enrichment!!

Everybody knows how smart chimpanzees are and the former OSU chimps, because of their enculturated upbringing and cognitive training, are smarter than most other chimps. Being left alone with nothing to do and no enrichment was particularly harmful to them, but not just them. All the chimpanzees kept at PPI were harmed by being neglected and kept in environments without any enrichment. The conditions at PPI, before the AG stepped in, caused both physical and psychological suffering to these highly sensitive great apes.

Now all of the chimps at PPI get food enrichment. Every day they are given “forage” which allows them to simulate natural food gathering activity. The OSU chimps have “dippy buckets" again (Ivy, Keeli, and Darrell are pictured here with their buckets).

In 1985, the US Congress passed an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act that required that captive primates be kept in environments that promoted their “psychological well-being." In the last 20 years, there has been a lot of work done to devise ways to enrich captive environments to promote primate mental health. Sanctuaries, zoos, and even biomedical research facilities have created enrichment programs to minimize boredom, frustration, aggression, and depression. Chimpanzees prefer to work for food rather than receive identical food day in and day out. Food enrichment provides chimps with a small sense of control over their captive environments and this is important to their overall well-being.

PPI, unlike most places where captive chimps are kept, denied the chimpanzees even this small dignity.