Thursday, March 01, 2007

In Memory of Kermit

On March 1, 2006 a life was cut short. It was the life of a remarkable individual named Kermit who was loved by many, humans and chimpanzees alike.

Kermit stood over 5 feet tall. His generous heart and his magnificent presence were just as large as his body. He was the alpha male of a group of 9 chimpanzees. He was a gentle giant who often enlisted his right hand man, Darrell, to do the dirty work of leading a group of chimpanzees. Kermit would rather make his intentions known by simply shifting his large body. While nothing escaped his perception, even the inappropriate behavior of Ivy and others, he was always fair. Although Kermit showed a face of stern self-assurance, he often let his guard down, playing with his favorite boots, delicately tickling little Emma, doing the "Kermie dance," and grooming with his most trusted caregivers. Those who met Kermit were always in awe of his size, intimidated by his displays, and captivated when they saw his soft side. He was often seen with his thumb in his mouth while watching television. He was a proud yet vulnerable and sensitive chimpanzee who just wanted everyone in his family to get along.

On February 27, 2006, Kermit and the rest of his chimpanzee family were loaded onto a truck and shipped to a facility that was unable to care for them and would not admit it. When the chimps arrived at this horrible place outside of San Antonio, TX, on March 1, an unqualified veterinarian improperly sedated Kermit and then left him unattended in his small transport cage. Kermit’s head slumped over and he suffocated. Kermit trusted people to care for him and in the end he was betrayed. The people responsible have yet to accept responsibility. Until all humans recognize that the lives of chimpanzees have value independent of people’s self-interests, ideological commitments, or egos, more unnecessary deaths will occur. Kermit’s death was preventable and tragic. Kermit’s Community will never be the same without him.

On this first anniversary of Kermit’s death, we remember the wonderful things about Kermit’s life and are heartened that his death was not in vain. A committed and diverse coalition of chimpanzee advocates came together to work to improve the conditions that led to Kermit and ultimately Bobby’s death. We hope that the loss of such wonderful beings will continue to spark important changes in the care of captive chimpanzees.