2012 is a very special year for the Fauna Foundation since it will mark the 15th anniversary of the arrival of the first 15 Chimpanzees at Fauna. This anniversary is significant for us because eight of those fifteen were the first HIV-positive chimpanzees ever to be released in sanctuary and because Fauna was, and still is, the first and only chimpanzee sanctuary in Canada. However, as meaningful as this event is for us, it is even more so for Billy, Jeannie, Pablo, Tommy, Donna Rae, Pepper, Sue Ellen and Yoko because coming to live at Fauna is, simply stated, the best thing that was ever done for them; and, thankfully, the best thing also for Annie, Rachel, Chance, Petra, Jethro, Regis and Binky, the other chimps who came to live at Fauna in 1997.
Over the course of this year, we will celebrate several important milestones and we will honour the memory of the precious souls who gave their lives for us and expected nothing in return. They are the reason for our existence and for our determination to improve the lives of all chimpanzees suffering in U.S labs.
We will revisit some of the truly remarkable moments we have shared with you as well as some of the more painful ones but, as always, with a view to the future and to our continued hope for a better life for chimpanzees as we continue to work towards common purpose.
We will also bring a renewed focus and energy to our fight for a better future for the monkeys, the dogs, the pigs and the other animals still suffering in research laboratories today. We will work relentlessly to end research on all living beings. We will not rest until we have succeeded in freeing every last one of those held captive by the huge companies who refuse to adopt ways of doing research that do not involve torturing other sentient beings.
We have come a long way in the past fifteen years and that is cause for celebration, but we still have a long way to go to achieve our mission of ending chimpanzee research. We dream of the day when there are no chimpanzees left in laboratories and when those responsible for their deplorable situation finally step up to accept responsibility by providing for their retirement into sanctuary.
You and I have worked tirelessly to raise public awareness of the plight of chimpanzees, to care for those who live in sanctuaries and to protect those still remaining in research labs. Together, we have helped by writing or calling legislators to let them know how unhappy we are with this tragic situation and that we will make sure it ends.
We must not stop now; we are so close. We cannot leave it alone, let ourselves be distracted by other matters or simply forget. If we do, we will be taking a backward step and losing some hard-won ground in this fight. We have won the first round and we need to re-energize for the coming ones. Because if we don't, who will?
Six years ago, I was invited to co-chair Project R & R- Release and Restitution for chimpanzees in U.S laboratories, a New-England Antivivisection Society (NEAVS) campaign. It was an incredible opportunity for me to join the efforts of Dr. Theodora Capaldo, President of NEAVS and her team of brilliant, committed and compassionate animal welfare activists including, among others, Dr. Jarrod Bailey, Dr. Lorin Lindner, Dr. Gay Bradshaw, Dr. Marjorie Cramer and Dr. Marge Peppercorn. Working alongside people with such deep understanding of the injustice done to chimpanzees and such determination to end their suffering has been extremely rewarding for me. It was as rewarding, in fact, as it was to be able rescue those first fifteen chimpanzees and to give them a decent life after research.
Last December, after years of advocating on our part and following a nine-month study called for by the US National Institute of Health (NIH), the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that most current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary. This pivotal report is the first step toward ending all chimpanzee research in U.S. laboratories. If the recommended criteria for new chimpanzee research are scrupulously applied, they will in fact end all chimpanzee use. We believe the IOM report—along with other scientific, public and legislator support— is instrumental to passage of the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, the bill now before Congress that will end the use of all great apes in invasive research and retire US-owned chimpanzees to sanctuary.
None of us could have done alone what our team accomplished, but one of the most gratifying aspects of being part of this team is being constantly reminded that each and every voice is important and needs to be heard. This respectful approach has led to some huge strides forward by combining some very disparate viewpoints. It has allowed me to share as much as I possibly could about the chimps' histories to help further change and I am so proud to have been part of it.
All of us, small group that we are, have brought about changes that will affect the lives of millions forever, simply because we believe in our cause. Seldom has the well-known saying by Margaret Mead's often-quoted saying rung more true for me:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
Thank you for being there for us, for caring, and for helping us give the chimpanzees here at Fauna a better life.
If you have not read the reports on the Institute of Medicines study, please read some of the articles below and feel proud that you too have been an important part of this momentous change.
Let us remember ALL who have died in research, after research, and because of research.
For our special friends: we celebrate having known them and we will always remember them.
Pablo: October 6, 2001
Annie: January 10, 2002
Donna Rae: March 14, 2005
Billy Jo: February 14, 2006
Jeannie: January 1, 2007
Sophie: April 23, 2008
Tom: December 10, 2009
IOM Announcement Links
Here are a few links that we suggest you read in regards to the IOM announcement mentioned above.
Tom National Post - The National Post covered the story and used a wonderful picture of our beloved Tom: No More Monkey Business
The IOM announcement was published one year after Tom passed away, almost to the day. He continues to look after his fellow chimpanzees!
- New York Times: U.S. Will Not Finance New Research on Chimps
- Read the full IOM report here!