Clyde's Story

The school year is ending and I'm lucky enough to still be doing 2 or 3 classroom interviews a week. (Lucky because Hurt Go Happy was published in 2006--a long life for any book.) The calls come from teachers around the country who continue to teach it in their classrooms. This morning's call came from Ms. Romeika's 4th grade class in Pennsylvania. One of the questions asked during the hour we were on the phone was do I still like chimpanzees? I told them about this blog, and that if it were up to me every story would include either a chimpanzee, a horse, or a dolphin. Of course, it is up to me, but after awhile, who would read it?
Clyde's home
for 40 years

However, since you asked . . . I've been saving Clyde's story. This was sent by Patti Ragan, Executive Director of The Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, FL.

"It's hard to believe that chimpanzees are kept in such horrid conditions, but last week we rescued a 44-year-old male who has lived in an indoor dungeon-type cage in the Midwest for decades.

"We heard about Clyde a couple years ago, but did not know much about his owner or his situation until the owner himself, a man in his 80s, asked us to take him to our sanctuary. We agreed, and with the help of our colleague April Truitt and her husband Clay Miller of Primate Rescue Center, Clyde was moved to Wauchula last week.  

"Clyde is skin and bones. His cheeks are so sunken in that they are hollow. With very little muscle and no fat on his legs, you just see bones and tendons when he walks. Clyde is covered with bedsores, and every protruding bone where he sits or lies down has a large sore on it. And, a surprising thing is that after spending four decades indoors in a very small garage cage, his skin is mostly white. . .

"When our staff carried his shipping crate into our quarantine area, he was calm, almost motionless. For a long time he wouldn’t come out of the crate into the bigger nighthouse area. When he finally did, we saw that he was very shaky and could not walk well.

"The next day, we opened the door to the outside enclosure, and he slowly came out and sat for a long time before he walked unsteadily around the small area. He tried to climb up on a shelf, but could not do it. 


"Only one week here now, we have started to see changes in Clyde. He is fed 5 small meals a day, being careful not to overdo it with his starvation condition. He is beginning to walk with a little more fluidity, and he allows the staff to put ointment on his sores. Our maintenance team built staircases for Clyde so he can now walk up the stairs to get on the shelf and lie on a thick bed of blankets.
"We are finding Clyde sweet and intelligent, and his eyes are beginning to show a little more life and interest in his surroundings. In fact, just a few days ago, he “head-bobbed” to the caregiver (a sign of play) and put a blanket over his head while he kept bobbing. This was momentous for us! 

"Not since we rescued Linus, the orangutan, have I seen a great ape in such deplorable condition, but miracles happened for Linus, and I believe they can for Clyde, too. With a change of diet & nutrition… and with physical therapy, sunshine, and lots of patience Clyde can experience peace, dignity, contentment, and better health for however many years he has left." Patti Ragan

 To read more about Clyde and Linus and the other apes at the Center for Great Apes, follow this link

Clyde making a nest

a nap in the sun
 End note from Ginny. Clyde was a wild-caught chimpanzee. A question I often get during these interviews is would I like to own a chimpanzee? I did not hear that question from Ms. Romeika's students, which means they understood why I wrote Hurt Go Happy, and the suffering owning a chimpanzee would cause the chiimpanzee.

Lost in the River of Grass is the July selection for
to join and get in on the free book drawing, please follow this link. I'm honored.