Left to Starve

If you've read this blog even once, you know that I come down on the side of animals whether it's to rant against the horrors we inflict when we lock them in cages to test our drugs, cosmetics, pesticides, and chemicals on them, or make them do tricks for our amusement. If any of these things make your stomach turn, you're my choir. I can only hope that once in a while a potential new member stumbles upon one of these posts and wants to help. And it's why I write for children, who are our last best hope to make us a more moral species.

Left to Starve
"Ponso is one of dozens of chimps who were stranded on a string of abandoned islands after the New York Blood Center (NYBC) finished years of painful testing on them."

Chimp Abandoned On Island Welcomes Rescuers With Open Arms

 By Ameena Schelling for the Dodo

 "The decision was met with widespread condemnation. At the time, Jane Goodall called the announcement "completely shocking and unacceptable." Duke University primatologist Brian Hare told the New York Times, "Never, ever have I seen anything even remotely as disgusting as this."

Guest Blog by Debra Rosenman

The photo's of Etaito and Gari are courtesy of John Debenham. The photo's were taken at a half way house in Goma, DRC. All the babies were taken away from their mothers, and five of them were at this halfway house for a few months.

I met Debra at a symposium on Chimpanzees in Wichita, KS, some years ago. She told me about the book she was working on. Hurt Go Happy had been out a couple years by then, so we had interests in common. Her dedication to revealing the crimes humans have committed against our nearest relatives in the animal world deserves to be seen. Perhaps you will join me in supporting her effort. GR

I have been working on a book called The Chimpanzee Chronicles: Spellbinding Stories from Behind the Bars, since 2007 and it is ready to be birthed into the world! 

The Chimpanzee Chronicles takes you behind the bars for a glimpse into the hidden worlds and real lives of captive chimpanzees. This unique anthology of twenty-six stories from around the globe exposes the veiled worlds of biomedical lab research, the entertainment industry, and exotic pet trade. While the narratives bear witness to the injustice, exploitation and heartless treatment of captive chimpanzees, the book isn’t only about suffering; it’s also about strength, hope, and compassion. All is revealed through the eyes, ears, and hearts of the chimpanzees and their human caregivers.

Some stories will shock you, some will amuse you, but all will open your heart to reconsider our relationship with these highly intelligent and sensitive beings.
We are beginning to recognize the exploitation of chimpanzees in our country, and the suffering they have endured. It’s time for us, as individuals and a nation, to stand together and say, “No more. What can we do for them?”

I have put my heart and soul into this book, and I am proud to be one of many voices speaking out for captive chimpanzees! The stories in The Chimpanzee Chronicles are about chimpanzees, but monkeys and orangutans are part of some of the narratives as well.

Here's a sneak peak-a few paragraphs from three different stories!

From Jen Feuerstein/ Sanctuary Director at Save the Chimps
Hand in Hand: Remembering Rhett

Another practice at Yerkes that really bothered me was the baby monkeys taken away from their  moms on the day they were born, for research. They would stick them in a light-tight black box because they were going to the Main Center where all the  hard-core biomedical research was happening. The babies would then be fitted with prism, contact lenses or goggles, to manipulate their sight and the input of light into their eyes, in order to see how that affected eye development.

The lead investigator for this study did a presentation on the project and they said part of the reason this work was so important was because there was a high incidence of nearsightedness in children in Thailand. The logic of this escaped me. I am nearsighted and I have treatment for it. It seemed to me that perhaps the money they were spending on doing this to baby monkeys would be better spent on providing eyeglasses for children in Thailand.

From Gloria Grow/ Founder/Director of Fauna Foundation in Canada
Knowing Jeannie

In 1981, Merck, Sharpe & Dohme pharmaceuticals sent Ch-562—Jeannie—to the Buckshire Corporation research facility. She was six years old. Seven years later, Buckshire sent her to the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP).There, Jean was subjected to years of research including being inoculated with HIV, continual vaginal washes, and cervical biopsies. She was often treated for self-inflicted wounds—a sign of severe stress. Following a 1995 experiment, Jean had what everyone described as a “nervous breakdown.” She was no longer of use to research. For the next two years she was left alone, heavily medicated, in her slightly less than 5’x5’x7’ cage. The drugs did little to prevent her from screaming continually, ripping her fingernails off, thrashing out of control or huddling against the floor in the back of her cage. That is where I met her, sitting in that dark corner, looking more terrified than anyone I had ever seen, lost in another world. Jean looked up at me with beautiful almond shaped eyes that seemed to be pleading, “Will you help?”

From Adriana Martin/ primatologist/lawyer/activist
Friends or Captors? My Memories of Moja and Other Chimpanzee Friends
Moja was a beautiful chimp by all accounts. Her face was very black, she had hazel eyes and her lips were naturally pursed. This gave her a pouty look that made her a crowd favorite at the “Chimpsiums,” the weekend open house for community members who paid a fee to spend an hour learning about chimps and chimp behavior. Red was Moja’s favorite color. When it was time to pass out blankets, she would pick the red one from a pile of multicolored blankets. She signed, “RED THAT.” If there were no red blankets at sleep time, she would sign, “RED.” I would answer, “NO RED, RED DIRTY” meaning that the red blanket was in the washer. She would point to the enrichment closet and sign, “RED THERE.” This was to remind me where I could get a red blanket. During the day, she asked for red clothes to either wear or to make nests. She looked good in red and I think she knew it. Moja would stare at herself in the mirror and comb her arm hair with a brush. Her legs were very straight as was her back. Slender and graceful, she looked a lot like a young Washoe, who was also a strikingly beautiful chimp. I remember Moja's eyes well. Primatologists know that chimpanzees do not like to stare at each other because it is a sign of dominance or aggression, but Moja could look into my eyes, and I could look into hers and neither felt threatened by the other.

Please consider making a small donation, or pre-ordering the book on my Indiegogo campaign site:

With love,
Debra Rosenman

The Rockville 15

I don't do this often, but you know how near and dear the subject of chimpanzees in labratories are to my heart. Here's an opportunity to stop the continued torture of 15 chimps, which are now at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisana, an institution under investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture for an incident in which the decomposing bodies of three monkeys were found trapped in a metal chute. In addition, between 2000 and 2008, 14 infant chimpanzees died as a result of traumatic injury at New Iberia.
Please sign this petition the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH) (Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.,)

Started by: Elizabeth, Washington, District Of Columbia
We request that you use the considerable influence of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to ensure that the fifteen young chimpanzees used at BIOQUAL, Inc., in Rockville, Md., are released to a sanctuary.

We request the 11 chimpanzees, who were leased by NIH and housed a BIOQUAL, until recently to be transferred from New Iberia Research Center, Louisiana, to Sanctuary and the four remaining chimpanzees (Loretta, Ricky, Tiffany and Torian), being housed at BIOQUAL, Inc, be transferred directly to sanctuary.

These chimpanzees, collectively known as the Rockville 15, range in age from just 2 to 7 years old and were likely born in violation of NIH's own 1995 breeding moratorium.

Considering that they are unnecessary for human health research, as detailed in the recent Institute of Medicine report, they should be released to sanctuary where it is cheaper for you to house them, and a much better environment for these chimpanzees to live. Why condemn these intelligent beings to lives of misery when scientists have clearly stated the benefits of alternative research models?

They must not live out their days in a laboratory that has repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act.

We ask you to please ensure that the Rockville 15 are retired to a sanctuary immediately.

You can also check out other popular petitions on by clicking here.

A question of morality; Ours not theirs

In 1988, I read an article in the Houston Chronicle about Lucy Temerlin, a sign-language using chimpanzee raised as if she were human. The very next day, I began the 15 years of research that would lead to the publication of my second novel, Hurt Go Happy.

A few days ago a friend sent me this TED video. Frans De Waal is renown behaviorist who has been studying chimps at Yerkes in Atlanta for decades. I love TED videos. I've posted others, and I liked this one. It's about moral behavior in animals, specifically the ability of chimps, monkeys and elephants to show empathy, compassion, and work cooperatively. It's amusing in places, and the audience laughs. That's the part I hated. It lets us almost but not quite take the intelligence of animals seriously. I know. I'm overly sensitive about this, but all these strides in understanding how closely our emotions mimic the emotional state of animals were experiments done on captive animals. Caged animals. We are performing experiments that show that animals can suffer just as deeply as we can. Anybody with a pet dog knows that. So how much more testing do we need? THEY HAVE FEELINGS AND A MORAL CODE. SO STOP ALREADY.

Then a few nights ago CNN did a segment on removal of the last of the chimpanzees from the Coulston Foundation in Alamogorda, NM, to their new home at the Save the Chimp sanctuary in Fort Pierce, FL. The Coulston Foundation was where used up circus chimps, chimps from movies and commercials, and all the chimps from our space program were sent, and where, for the next 3 decades, biomedical experiments were conducted on them. (In Hurt Go Happy, the Coulston Foundation is the Clarke Foundation. My publisher made me change the name.)

There are series of videos, including portions of the CNN broadcast on the Save the Chimps site.

Chimpanzees as medical test subjects (source
The United States is one of two remaining countries--the other being Gabon--that legally allow chimps and other great apes to be used in invasive biomedical research, according to the Humane Society of the United States. However, other countries still contract the services of research centers that use chimps, according to Dr. Thomas Rowell Director of the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana.

There are more than 930 chimpanzees at U.S. medical research facilities, most of them used for hepatitis testing, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine issued in December. The report stated that chimpanzees are not necessary for most biomedical research. The institute recognized two possible uses for chimps: one for cancerous tumors that are already part of ongoing investigations, and the other for a hepatitis C vaccine.

A panel of experts advising the National Institutes of Health on how to implement the the Institute of Medicine's report is expected to issue its recommendations by the end of the year.

A wake for a dead chimp
My question is, if chimps suffer, feel pain, show empathy, work cooperatively, fall in love, and mourn their dead, what kind of society are we to still perform experiments on them?  Human?  Inhumane? Inhuman

How are my daughters? Part 2

Zipi "Longstocking"
Age 13

I don't have children, except my fictional daughters, whom I have launched into the world with the hope they will amount to something, impact other people's children in a positive way. A few weeks ago I wrote about how much it means to me to hear from kids who have read one of my books, and connected to one of my girls. I told you then that I get the occasional letter home in the form of a royalty check, but I don't really know how they are faring out there in the world with millions of other fictional characters. Are they making the kind of difference I'd hoped they would make?

I got this letter a couple days ago. Zipi told me it was a school assignment to write to an author. I'm so pleased she chose me, and I'm very proud of my daughter, Joey. 

P.S. With kids like Zipi in the world, we shouldn't be too worried about our planet.

Dear Ginny Rorby,
      The first thing I would like you to know is that I despise nonfiction and am not a fan of realistic fiction either. However, because of a recommendation from a friend, I read Hurt Go Happy when I was in the fifth grade. I fell in love with it. It was the first realistic fiction book I enjoyed and loved (followed by only a couple others).
The second thing I would like you to know is that I am a proud vegetarian; I have been one all my life. I love animals and at one time, I had thirteen pets! Hurt Go Happy showed me the horrible truth behind animal research testing labs. There is a saying, “cruelty free,” which means that a cosmetic or other product is not tested on animals. My cosmetics and toiletries are all cruelty free, which is something that Hurt Go Happy made me realize I needed to do. I am trying to get my parents and even my friends to live cruelty free lifestyles also. (not the best resource, I know) says that meaningful is, “full of significance, meaning, purpose, or value”. Hurt Go Happy is full of all of those things. While the main topic of the book seems to be about how thirteen-year-old Joey deals with her deafness, I felt that for me personally, the book was more about the significance of animals on people’s lives and how much animals can understand. When Sukari signs to Joey near the end of the book, “Hurt go. Happy,” (this is translated into “the pain has ended”), it shows that Sukari is able to sense Joey’s feelings and know when she is upset. I believe this provides a wonderful insight because my pets always seem to know when I am upset too, which is one of the reasons I believe animals to be amazing. They may not have the same sized brain that we humans have but they are unique in their own way – they can tell our feelings. Another reason that Hurt Go Happy is meaningful to me is that it explores two topics that are not usually written about for young readers: deafness and animal testing.
Hurt Go Happy inspired me to possess products that do not test on animals, before I fully knew what animal testing and cruelty free even meant. The relationship between Sukari, Joey, and (Mr.) Charlie has helped me discover the meaning of true friendship. Friends can be any gender, age, or species. Hurt Go Happy also inspired me to learn how to be able to sign “Hurt go. Happy”.
Extend the index fingers of both hands, pointing them towards each other. Then, spin them in an outwards circle. (Hurt.) Next, bring your index fingers close to your body, pointing upwards. Then, in a sweeping motion, bring them up and out, pointing with both fingers at something in front of you. (Go.) Finally, place one or both of your hands in front of you. Use flat hands, palms facing your body. Circle your hands forward, down, back, up, forward, down, back, up. Move your hands at the same time and in the same direction. On the upward swing, the hands are very close to your chest or touch your chest. On the downward swing, your hands are further away from your chest.
This is how to sign “Hurt go. Happy” in American Sign Language. This means
“the pain has ended”.
Zipi "Longstocking"


In honor of a special Chimpanzee

There would be no Hurt Go Happy (American Sign Language for the happily the pain has ended) if it weren't for Patti Regan and her Center for Great Apes. When I was researching HGH, Patti and her small group of chimps and orangutans lived just down the street from my house in Miami. When we met in 1988, I was stumbling around trying to become a writer, and had this sketchy idea for a book about a sign language using chimpanzee and a deaf child. Patti took me seriously and let me hang out with her and her chimps, probably to the point of exhaustion. The Center for Great Apes is now located in central Florida and her work of giving a home to chimps and orangutans from the entertainment industry and unwanted pets, goes on.

There is a line in Hurt Go Happy where Joey turns to the lab tech at the research facility, after she rescues Sukari, and says, "Genetically chimps are over 98% human; that's more human than you people are."

Here's Sam's story which only goes to prove that point.

 Chimpanzee Sam, a dignified elder
Sam at Christmas time
Once again we have the very sad news of the loss of a dear chimpanzee, our 43-year-old Sam.  He was found early in the morning this past Babies tickle SamMonday curled up in his nest of blankets with his head on a pillow and all of his covers pulled up over his shoulders.  He had gone to bed the night before and appeared to have died peacefully in his sleep.
A longtime friend of Bubbles (Michael Jackson's chimp)(my note), both in California and in Florida, Sam also lived for Sam in aerial trailwayyears in a group with his companion Oopsie and her daughters Boma and Jessie and her grandbabies Kodua and Bobby-Stryker.  Sam was a wild-caught chimpanzee born in Africa around 1968 and was captured for the exotic pet trade.  He spent his first years as a pet in Los Angeles and then later lived at a Hollywood compound.  He never sired any offspring, but was a guardian and playmate to many young entertainment chimp babies who were kept with him for socialization.
Sam arrived at our sanctuary seven years ago when his owner/trainer decided to stop working great apes in the entertainment industry.  Sam was a gentle and sweet male who enjoyed sitting at the top of Sam tickles Koduahis 40-foot high tower in the dome gazing out over the orange groves surrounding the sanctuary.  He loved to play with the kids, Kodua and Stryker, having daily games of "tickle and chase" with them.  But most of the time Sam, Oopsie, and Bubbles would sit for hours high-up in the cupola relaxing with each other.  Sam was protective of his group (especially 37-year-old Oopsie), and he was fatherly and playful with the Sam and Bobby Strykeryoungsters. Sam was our dear old boy...after Marco, the oldest ape here.
On his last day, Sam spent the entire time with his family - being groomed by Oopsie, Boma, and Jessie and tickling and grooming little Stryker and Kodua.  He ate well and seemed to be content to lounge around with them in the aerial chute system.
Chimpanzees in the wild have been observed gathering around a deceased group member for final inspection and farewells.  So, Monday morning, after his group went outside, our caregivers carried Sam's body down to the floor and first let Oopsie alone back inside the nighthouse. She went to Sam, pulled the blanket off of him, and very gently lifted each leg and arm as if trying to wake him up. She patted him and groomed him for awhile, and she sat next to him for about 20 minutes. Then Oopsie got up and walked back outside. We then let the rest of Oopsie, Sam, Kodua, Jessie, Stryker and Bomahis group back inside to see him. The two chimp kids poked at Sam and seemed confused, but Oopsie pulled them away. Boma and Jessie very gently touched Sam and sat near him. They all stayed with him about 45 minutes and then eventually left the nighthouse together appearing to have had thier closure.  
It's been difficult for our staff to experience this sadness once again so soon after Grub's untimely passing, but we are grateful that Sam had some happy days before he died and that he went so peacefully in his sleep. He was a sweetheart, and he will be greatly missed...not only by his chimp group, but also by the humans who loved him.
  If you would like to make a contribution in memory of Sam, please click here. 
Your donation will help continue the care for Oopsie and her chimp family and is always appreciated.
Sam, 1968-2011 
Center for Orangutan & Chimpanzee Conservation, Inc. P.O.Box 488 Wauchula, FL 33873 | A not-for-profit organization

The Birthday Boys

I knew Grub, on the left, and Pongo, on the right, nearly twenty years ago when Patti Ragan first started the Center for Great Apes. Grub was a baby, and Pongo was a year old. Look at the old boys now.

Pongo started life as an infant in a roadside tourist attraction and was Patti's first rescue. He is now a beautiful, fully developed male with red hair that is 3 feet long.

Grub, was born in Los Angeles, in an animal trainer's compound. He was pulled from his mother when he was just a few months old and sold to an tourist attraction in Florida. Grub is the alpha male in this group of great apes, and weighs 145 pounds.

There is a bill in congress, sponsored by
Roscoe Bartlett, (R) Maryland, to stop unnecassary testing on primates. Bartlett, who was the inventor of respiratory devices tested on primates in the early days of the space age, is now against their use for research, especially drug research. The link to the NYTimes article is below.

Project Nim, a new release from Sundance Films, documents the 27 year life of Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who was raised as if human. I based Hurt Go Happy on Lucy Temerlin, another experiment is raising a chimpanzee like a human child, and Nim Chimpsky. Sukari is their fictional counterpart. Here is the chance to end the suffering of the nearly 1300 chimpanzees still in research facilities.

The bill is H.R. 1513. Please support it by contacting your House Representative.

The link for the documentary, Project Nim, is

The link to the NYTimes article about Bartlett's House bill is