NATURE introduces you to the unsung heroes in our history in Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History.
The history of chimps in our society is a history unlike any other. We have sent them into space, dressed them in costumes and demanded that they entertain us. Some have been adopted into human families until they “outgrew” their cuteness, many have been used to test our drugs or to help develop our vaccines, others have been infected with our most frightening diseases. While we are mesmerized by their likeness to our species and we have continually found uses for chimps, we never considered what they wanted or needed.
But their side of the story is starting to emerge. And it can be heard at the sanctuaries where many retired chimps now reside. It can be read in their medical records, seen in their mutilated bodies, or sensed through their psychological afflictions. We’ve had a conflicted relationships with chimps in our society but there are some people who want to simplify it. Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History will introduce you to the rescuers at sanctuaries like Fauna Foundation, Save the Chimps, Center for Great Apes. And they are determined to see that the traumatized residents they have saved from a life of confinement and suffering can finally be allowed to feel like chimps.
Update (January 2008): Under a new bill, called the Chimp Haven is Home Act, retired chimpanzees living at Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana would not be able to be removed for medical research. President Bush must sign the bill for it to become law. The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, deletes a provision in standing law that would allow such removal. The CHIMP Act of 2000 established the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary System for chimpanzees retired from use in research. Chimp Haven operates this sanctuary system through a public-private partnership. “The chimpanzees at Chimp Haven have spent their lives in research laboratories helping to improve the lives of all Americans,” McCrery said. “Many of our discoveries in space and medicine are due to chimpanzees. I am proud to help modify the existing law to ensure chimpanzees at Chimp Haven will spend their final years happily.
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Online content for Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History was originally posted November 2006.